U.S. Air Force concludes participation in multinational Atlantic Trident 2023 exercise

  • Published
  • By Capt Michael Hardy and SMSgt Andrew Stephens
  • USAFE-AFAFRICA Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Airmen from RAF Lakenheath and RAF Mildenhall concluded their participation in Atlantic Trident 2023 Friday, after weeks working alongside French and British aircrews. 

Atlantic Trident is a biennial multinational exercise to build combatant cooperation capabilities between French, U.K. and U.S. air forces with the 2023 incarnation hosted by the United Kingdom at RAF Waddington and RAF Leeming.  

Each exercise iteration meets specific readiness objectives that reflect ongoing and projected mission requirements. In 2023, exercise planners created scenarios that provided advanced and realistic aircrew training through fourth- and fifth-generation integration, strengthening interoperability during joint operations and air defenses to maintain joint readiness. 

“Atlantic Trident reflects our strong commitment with France and the United Kingdom that continues to strengthen our military ties,” said U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. John Lamontagne, deputy commander of United States Air Forces in Europe – Air Forces Africa.  

During this exercise, KC-135s from RAF Mildenhall provided aerial refueling capabilities, F-15Es from the 492nd Fighter Squadron, and F-35As from the 493rd Fighter Squadron from Royal Air Force Lakenheath participated with allies in rapid deployment exercises under the Agile Combat Employment model. A contingent from Ramstein’s own 1st Combat Communications Squadron also supported the exercise. 

The key objective for U.S. participants was to exercise the U.S. Air Force’s ACE concept by providing participants with opportunities to test and improve shared technical and tactical knowledge. ACE is one of USAFE-AFAFRICA's five operational focus areas.  

ACE represents a reinvigoration of a tried-and-true military concept that emphasizes agility and rapid adaptation to changing threat environments. In contrast to conventional operating methods, ACE seeks to reduce reliance on traditional fixed bases and static deployments. Instead, it embraces a dynamic approach to rapidly distribute, reposition, and operate from multiple dispersed locations. By doing so, ACE aims to deny adversaries the advantage of predictability, while concurrently enhancing USAFE-AFAFRICA's capacity to respond swiftly to emerging threats. 

Where the U.S. Air Force has ACE, the French air force applies their operational concept of MORANE, a mindset which sees French air forces employ rapid implementation to deploy and act quickly with a small logistical footprint. Understanding the different operational concepts employed by the U.S., French and British air contingents is the first step towards building shared objectives and improving coordination, according to Matthew Snyder, USAFE lead planner for Atlantic Trident 2023. And with practice, will lead to better force integration and interoperability.  

Allied assets participating in the exercise included the French Air and Space Force Rafale and E-3F Airborne Warning and Control System, the French Navy Marine Rafale, the U.K. Royal Navy F-35B Lighting II, and the Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon. 

The exercise culminated in a live demonstration of a rapid deployment scenario for allied military leaders including General Laurent Rataud from French Air and Space Force, Air Marshal Harvey Smyth, RAF Air and Space Commander, and USAFE-AFAFRICA deputy commander Lt. Gen. John Lamontagne. 

“At Royal Air Force Leeming, our men and women executed the agile combat employment concept alongside our allied partner. This advanced, realistic training in fourth- and fifth-generation aircraft also demonstrated that our combined aircrews are a ready and postured force,” said Lt. Gen. Lamontagne after observing the demonstration. 

Atlantic Trident 2023 continues a strong trilateral partnership that has been forged over decades of cooperation and participants will continue to strengthen military ties through training and other exercises.