Stunning Photos Show the F-22 Raptor training with the Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale in the U.S.

Dec 10 2015 - 48 Comments

NATO’s three most advanced combat planes flying together during exercise.

The photographs in this post were taken recently in the skies near Langley Air Force Base, Virginia.

They show a U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, a Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon and a French Air Force Dassault Rafale, flying together during the inaugural Trilateral anti-access/area denial exercise scheduled for Dec. 2 – 18.

Hosted by the 1st FW (Fighter Wing), the East Coast drills focus on integrated operations with the aim to gain an understanding of the required tactics, techniques, procedures as well as logistics and support associated with fighting in a highly-contested scenario made of layered long-range air defenses.

To make things even more realistic, the exercise does not only feature the NATO’s premiere combat aircraft but also a wide variety of supporting assets: along with the “Bad Guys” (U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles and the Langley-based T-38 Talons that always train against the Raptor stealth fighter) there are U.S. E-3 AWACS as well as U.S. and French Air Force tankers.

According to U.S. Air Force Col. Pete Fesler, the commander of the 1st FW: “The RAF and FrAF are our vital strategic partners and allies in the current fight against extremism, and will be in any foreseeable future conflict,” said Fesler. “The trilateral exercise gives us an opportunity to train together in realistic counter-air and strike scenarios. This training is critical to ensure that we have day-one interoperability for future contingency operations.”

Interestingly, whilst the USAF Raptor, the British Typhoon and the French Rafale multi-role combat planes train in the U.S. to gain air superiority in a modern A2/AD (anti-access/area denial environment), the same three kinds of aircraft are currently involved in a real war against ISIS in Syria and they daily operate well inside a Russian super-MEZ (Missile Engagement Zone) created with the deployment of the Moskva guided-missile cruiser (with its S-300F) off Latakia and the installation an S-400 Triumf battery at Hmeymim airbase: perhaps an interesting real-world scenario to test at least a few of those procedures studied in the permissive skies over Virginia.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force


  • Yak

    Such a pretty sight ! United we train, united we stand.

  • rats123

    I wonder if one of those typhoon’s was the one that had a raptor salad …

    • E1-Kabong

      Those were Luftwaffe ones. ;-)

    • sferrin

      What amusing is that a Typhoon getting an F-22 “kill” is such a rarity that you still remember the quote, and think it’s something to brag about. The irony is probably lost on you though.

      • rats123

        A bit like the Serbs shooting down the “invisible” f117!

        • E1-Kabong

          That was caused by USAF laziness and incompetence.

          Using the same flightpaths for days gave the Serbs all the intel needed for an ambush.

          • rats123

            LOL! Excuses. The F117 was detected and shot down. Why else did they retire such a new plane?!

            • Pete Miller

              Why are you ignoring what E1-Kabong said? Using your conclusion (guess), that stealth has been defeated, then America should also retire the F-22 and the B-2. Why haven’t they?

  • I think I’m going to have to venture over to and download the hi-res for backgrounds, these are gorgeous.

  • FkDahl

    Did you see the stealthy F-35?!

  • leroy

    ” inaugural Trilateral anti-access/area denial exercise scheduled for Dec. 2 – 18.”

    No F-35? Wonder why considering it is the most capable A2/AD aircraft in the world. Exactly the mission it was designed for. Why weren’t a few sent over from with the USMC or USAF to participate? Some good training and data could have been obtained. After all – Red Flag has already shown the F-35’s advanced (and superior) capabilities in A-G. Time to start showcasing the Lightning II’s exceptional performance to the public and allies!

    • Michael Rich

      Damn dude, you literally sound like a Lockheed sales person.

      Also maybe it’s not there because it’s not in service yet.

      • leroy

        The F-35B is IOC and combat ready. Ask the Commandant of the Marine Corps.

        Yes – it could participate in this exercise. And it should!

        • E1-Kabong

          MARINES…Not Air Force….

    • E1-Kabong

      Considering it hasn’t reached IOC with the USAF yet…

      • leroy

        Who says it has to be IOC with the USAF to participate in an exercise? After all – AF F-35s are participating in Red Flag! Yes – it could partake.

        • Uniform223

          No they’re not.

          Currently THERE ARE two F-35s at Nellis AFB assigned to the 422nd Test and Eval Sqd which is part of the USAF Warfare Center. They are currently developing T&Ps for the F-35.

          When they do participate in Red Flag, it’ll be all over the interwebs for aviation enthusiasts to read and the haters to pick apart and complain.

        • E1-Kabong

          Umm…the USAF.

          NO F-35 has ‘participated’ in a Red Flag.

          You really don’t know what the purpose the ‘Flag exercises are for do you?

    • Amir

      The best in the world? You serious? Not even your flagship F-22s? I knew you were a fanboy but not that much…

    • Uniform223

      I think you mean Green Flag. F-35s (Though there are two at Nellis AFB) have not participated in Red Flag yet. They did how ever have a its sensor test bed aircraft tested at Northern Edge in 2011 and the results were surprising.

      • leroy

        Perhaps it was Green Flag.

        • Uniform223

          most recently the F-35 did partake in a large force exercise called “Checkered Flag”. This is not to be confused with Red Flag that is more known for its multi-national participation.

  • sferrin

    Oh look, the F-35 haters are here.

    • Jiesheng Li

      Well, it’s the internet. No one an stop them.

    • Renato Dallarmi

      it is not difficult to find F-35 haters. It is becoming increasing difficult to find F33 lovers. The former have plenty of evidence tu build their hate on, the latter have just Loockheed’s word to run with.

      • Uniform223

        what about recent activities within the program? Trying to argue things from 6 years ago when the past 3 has been on the up… shouldn’t matter. It would be like saying….

        “The F-14 as fighter aircraft is terrible because the first years of its service it had the P&W engine and it crashed on its second flight*

  • vegass04 .

    I wonder why were Rafale and Typhoons designed as a single tail jet fighters. No modern US or Russian design uses that configuration. It is proven that twin tail is aerodinamicaly beter design. Any thoughts.

    • Felix

      Nope. correct sentence would be: “It is proven that twin tail design is a simple aerodinamic solution, when too large body compromise airflow in the central vertical fin position at moderate to high AoA.”

      If design is allowing enough airflow to the a single vertical fin for it to ensure horizontal stability at useful AoA, then it’s obviously better than having to cope with the added drag / weight / RCS / cost / complexity of two. Twin fin configuration is merely a “patch” to try and correct aerodynamic problem of a design, mostly due to fat body.

      For that, Rafale close coupled canards are very usefull, as part of the vortex generated are energising the air toward the fin. Eurofighter I think is a bit less efficient in that regard, but possibly forward placed long arm canards are doing a bit of the same.

      There are, however, advantages in twin fin configuration, in that it’s allowing more fuel onboard, and most of all providing more interesting positions for sensors and antennas.

      • twistedneck

        All good points and look at 6th gen, no more vertical tails at all yet still insane levels of agility.

        Two flat angled rudder fins might provide less rcs than one tall single. There is also the ultra complex buffeting issues.

        Looking at f35 recent airshow footage the twin tails are working well.

        • Uniform223

          “All good points and look at 6th gen, no more vertical tails at all yet still insane levels of agility.”

          I wouldn’t take concept art as proof. Though it is interesting none the less.

      • E1-Kabong

        “There are, however, advantages in twin fin configuration, in that it’s allowing more fuel onboard, and most of all providing more interesting positions for sensors and antennas.”?

        More fuel?
        Yeah, no.

        Take a look at the Iranian Saeqeh….

    • franciwzm

      there are no modern russian designes.

  • franciwzm

    Pak-fa ? ahhh

  • Jiesheng Li

    No sure if the RAF would envision combat with the PLAAF.

  • Renato Dallarmi

    How many pak-fa and su-35 are operational now days?
    The difference is sll there.

  • It appears (from monitoring sortie launches) that many, if not all the F-22s in the exercise are flying with the Luneburg Lense. Guess you have to hold onto some of your secrets, and give the other guys a chance…. Perhaps once everyone is familiar with working together they will come off later in the exercise. Keeping in mind, the Rafales, Typhoons & Raptors are coordinating on the same force in this exercise (there may be the odd exception) vs F-15Es & T-38s.

  • Uniform223

    not really…

    • E1-Kabong

      Yes, really.

      I haven’t seen a pilot yet who didn’t like dropping/launching live ordnance.

      • Uniform223

        i was speaking as the perspective as a former ground pounder. yes there is no substitute for live fire exercises but in the same moment and feeling we hate it. Simunitions offer pretty much all the same level of “authenticity” without having to bleed out when something goes wrong. Also as I read your comment in response to the other, it was as if we (the military) hopes for war when the truth couldn’t be any further apart.

        • E1-Kabong

          Fair enough.

          Still, you have to experience live weapons at least once to know what to expect.
          Agreed, for you army types ;-) simulators/blanks/training rounds are pretty close to live ammo, for a fighter pilot, nothing comes close to firing the gun. Even if it is with TP ammo. Those little PB’s & LGTR’s are great for practicing your aim and such, but the feeling of a live/full size training munition being dropped/launched isn’t something to be left for actual combat.

          Oh, I agree, most of us who have served are the last people wanting to go to war.
          But, when it comes down to a fight, I’m sure you agree, it’s go in, get it done and go home.
          Politicians should be handed guns and told to go fight each other, first, before anyone else is sent in.
          I bet that’d put a stop to wars, PDQ.

  • steph

    the french pilots have been very impressed by the stealth f-22 , the f-22 was above their expectation of stealth .

  • Pete Miller

    American aircraft manufacturers did canard designed aircraft decades before the Rafale and Typhoon. Why are there none today? Because there are likely disadvantages to them. Design choices need to made based on on many variables.

    • Bruno Diogon

      Hello. What was the last Delta wings fighter in USAF? The F106? European aviation manufacturers decided to extent the development of the delta design on their new planes when American manufacturers didn’t. I don’t think the both are wrong, but by the way, “Canards” are the logical evolution on the delta design. French Dassault designers experimented at the end of the 70’s this concept of “canard” on Mirage III, as “Mirage III/5 NG” (NG for “Nouvelle Génération”, New or Next Generation). And previously, in 1968, they tested another system called “Moustache”, on the Dassault “Milan”, a prototype of a Mirage IIIC designed for the Swiss Air Force, based on a concept elaborated by the Swiss themselves at the FFA (“Fabrique Fédérale d’Aviation”). A retractable device implanted just behind the nose. This design was experimented later on Mirage 5/50 at the begining of the 80’s. Without further development. Israeli Aerospace Industries followed the same direction, with the IAI Kfir at the same time.