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Joint U.S.-Britain military exercises integrate F-35B, F-35C fighter jets

By Jake Thomas
Joint U.S.-Britain military exercises integrate F-35B, F-35C fighter jets
Aircraft conduct mid-air refueling in support of joint interoperability flights between Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and the U.K. Carrier Strike Group during a drill last week. Photo by U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Bart Crowder

Sept. 2 (UPI) -- Aircrafts from the U.S. Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and Britain's U.K. Carrier Strike Group 21 have conducted joint military exercises for the first time, the U.S. Navy announced.

The two strike groups completed the joint interoperability flights in the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet on Aug. 26. During the flights, the aircraft conducted missions intended to validate joint integration techniques and procedures, such as mid-air refueling.

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The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group was embarked with aircrafts from the Carrier Air Wing Two that included four F-35C Lightning IIs, five F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, two EA-18G Growlers and one E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.

The U.K. Carrier Strike Group 21 aircraft included a total of four F-35Bs from two different squadrons.

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"Integrating British and U.S. Marine Corps F-35Bs into a flight with U.S. Navy F-35Cs continues to reinforce the tactical flexibility and interoperability of the F-35," Col. Simon Doran, U.S. senior national representative to the U.K. Carrier Strike Group, said Wednesday in a press release.

"Additionally, the mission further demonstrates the F-35s ability to support distributed maritime operations," Doran said.

Capt. Tommy Locke, commander of the Carrier Air Wing Two, said in a statement that the exercises combined the fight generation capabilities of a joint strike fighter aircraft from two services and a partner nation with the capabilities of the entire air wing.

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He said the exercise demonstrated the value of having agile fifth-generation maritime power in the Indo-Pacific region.

The training was also the first time the U.K. Carrier Strike Group 21 engaged with the F-35 "C" model assigned to Carrier Air Wing Two. Previously, Britain's two F-35B squadrons had been deployed together with the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

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