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

A U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor, British Royal Air Force Typhoon, and French air force Rafale fly in formation as part of a Trilateral Exercise held at Langley Air Force Base, Va., Dec. 7, 2015. The exercise simulates a highly-contested, degraded and operationally-limited environment where U.S. and partner pilots and ground crews can test their readiness. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kayla Newman)

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


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.


    • 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.

      • 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*

  1. 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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

        • “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.

      • “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….

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