Royal Air Force (RAF) Typhoons currently deployed in the Eastern Mediterranean have taken part in the first exercise for 20 years with the Egyptian Air Force, flying over Egypt.
The Typhoons currently deployed as part of 903 Expeditionary Air Wing joined Egyptian Air Force F-16s during Exercise Bright Star 2021, the RAF said. This was the first time since 2001 that the RAF has flown with the Egyptian Air Force. The Typhoons were also joined on the exercise by F-16s from the Greek Air Force and US Air Force F-15s and F-16s together with C-130 Hercules and B-52s.
“Exercises such as Ex Bright Star 21 are vital as we develop and maintain interoperability with our coalition partners if the RAF is to be truly effective on operations throughout the Middle East. Flying with other air forces requires extensive planning and the contributions of 903 Expeditionary Air Wing personnel have ensured that the exercise was safely and successfully completed,” said Wing Commander ‘Dutch’ Holland, Commanding Officer 903 Expeditionary Air Wing.
Most of the participating aircraft flew from Cairo West Air Base, but RAF Typhoons flew from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. They were supported by an RAF Voyager, also from RAF Akrotiri, which provided air-to-air refuelling.
“I was delighted to be hosted by the Egyptians during this important exercise with regional partners,” said Air Commodore Simon Strasdin, Officer Commanding 83 Expeditionary Air Group. “Aside from the great experience of training and flying with other nations, it is essential that we continue to play an active role in the stability of the region and demonstrate our commitment to the Middle East.”
Exercise Bright Star is hosted in Egypt every two years and is run in cooperation with the United States Air Force. This iteration took place in the North West of Egypt with the aim to test partner forces interoperability. The exercise was first held in 1980 to broker peace between Egypt and Israel. The most recent exercise before this year was held in 2018 as the 2020 exercise was cancelled due to COVID-19.