American aircraft join RAF allies in training exercise over North Sea

American military aircraft have joined UK fighter jets in a training exercise over the North Sea.

The recurring Point Blank exercise, which on Thursday included 35 aircraft from 10 units, aims to hone how allies will fight in real world operations.

Among those taking part were a United States Air Force (USAF) CV-22 Osprey, which can take off and land like a helicopter but has aeroplane-style wings.

Aircrew in the cockpit of a USAF MC-130J Commando II cargo plane during operation Point Blank. (Joe Giddens/ PA)
Air crew in the cockpit of a USAF MC-130J Commando II cargo plane during operation Point Blank (Joe Giddens/PA)

The tiltrotor aircraft, which can carry up to 32 troops and has a machine gun on its ramp, was refuelled over the North Sea from an MC-130J Commando II.

The cargo plane, based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, flies clandestine or low-visibility refuelling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft, and can bring troops and supplies in and out of warzones.

During the exercise it was in turn refuelled from a KC-135 Stratotanker refueller plane.

An MC-130J Commando II cargo plane is refuelled by a KC-135 Stratotanker refueller plane. (Joe Giddens/ PA)
An MC-130J Commando II cargo plane is refuelled by a KC-135 Stratotanker refueller plane (Joe Giddens/PA)

The US aircraft were joined by UK Typhoon fighter jets from RAF airbases at Coningsby in Lincolnshire and Lossiemouth in Scotland, which also took part in the exercise.

Speaking at a previous iteration of Point Blank last year, RAF Air Commodore Jez Attridge said he could see the “challenge that Russia is giving to the international rules-based order”, adding “we are the insurance policy”.

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