RAF Typhoon jets and a Chinook helicopter have met over the white cliffs to conduct valuable training. The crews were fresh from wowing the crowds at the Bournemouth Air Festival and took the opportunity to meet up near Beachy Head to practise targeting manoeuvres.
Typhoon pilots exercised vital low-level interception training, working the many challenges of finding slow targets such as helicopters and small fixed-wing aircraft. The Chinook crew, who train in evasion tactics against aggressive fast jets, took advantage of the opportunity to experience such a situation.
Both aircraft types have recently been operating in Eastern Europe as part of NATO’s commitment. Chinook helicopters returned to the UK from the Baltic States where they supported training and logistics as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence. Typhoons have been conducting armed sorties as part of NATO’s enhanced Vigilance Activity to secure the Alliance’s eastern border and deter Russian aggression. They have also deployed across Europe from Estonia, Finland and Sweden down to the Mediterranean to train and integrate with our allies.
Typhoon pilots are well versed in procedures for tracking targets at high altitudes with the RAF providing Quick Reaction Alert for UK airspace 24/7. These multi-role fast jets are ready to respond at a moment’s notice to any potential threat within the UK, such as a civilian flight not responding to radio calls or the approach of an unauthorised military aircraft.
Chinooks operate with various other aircraft in the congested air/land environment, delivering heavy cargo in the cab and under-slung loads, conducting troop insertions and extractions, and taking Medical Emergency Response Teams to and from the battlefield to save lives. Both airframes regularly integrate with larger forces so familiarity with each other’s procedures is key to rapid deployment at short notice and effective cooperation.
"RAF aircraft are working closely together in partnership with our allies, continuing to demonstrate our commitment to NATO and Joint Expeditionary Force partners. This training over the white cliffs brings together the utility of the Chinook, supporting the enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltics, with the capability of the Typhoon, conducting armed assurance patrols on NATO’s Eastern flank. I am incredibly proud of the courage and commitment of our aircrew operating across Europe and of all our personnel who are supporting them." stated Air Vice-Marshal Robinson, Air Officer Commanding 11 Group.
The Typhoon, known as Blackjack, was flown by Flight Lieutenant Adam ‘Paddy’ O’Hare from 29 Squadron, based at RAF Coningsby. It was joined by the RAF Chinook Display Team led by Flight Lieutenant Matt ‘Schmitty’ Smyth, of 27 Squadron based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.
“It was great to fly alongside the Chinook and to be part of this iconic event. These aircraft have been working overseas offering support to NATO and our partners far from the public gaze, so to bring it home and showcase the phenomenal capability is a real privilege,” said Fight Lieutenant O’Hare, Typhoon Pilot
This meeting was also an opportunity for RAF Photographers to work with aviation photography specialists Centre of Aviation Photography Media who provided a civilian aircraft capable of remaining stable at low speeds.
“Wherever Centre of Aviation Photography teams up with the Royal Air Force it is always an impressive experience,” added Mr Rich Cooper from the Centre of Aviation Photography. “These crews work extremely hard protecting our nation on a daily basis, so putting their skills to a completely different objective and having Centre of Aviation Photography execute part of the mission was a rewarding and beneficial challenge for all. The images you see here are the culmination of dedicated time and effort by all parties and represent the epitome of teamwork in action.”