Exercise Point Blank 22-4 – the last of four quarterly-held exercises to be held in 2022 by the US Air Force’s (USAF’s) 48th Fighter Wing (FW) at RAF Lakenheath in Suffolk – took place from August 24-25.
The two-day exercise – which is designed to increase tactical proficiency and interoperability between the USAF and its NATO partners in Europe – happens regularly with multiple nations taking part. Following the conclusion of the final edition of the Point Blank series in 2022, Key.Aero discussed the event with the 48th FW, which elaborated on the missions that were carried out during Point Blank 22-4.
“The first day was focused on degrading enemy early warning radar, using fifth-gen fighter aircraft to take down enemy SAM [surface-to-air missile] systems and bomber escort,” a 48th FW spokesperson told Key.Aero. “Day two was focused on fourth- and fifth-gen integration and air interdiction,” they added.
These missions were flown by 48th FW units in association with multiple aircraft from allied NATO air arms. The 48th FW participated with its two Boeing F-15E Strike Eagle units: the 492nd Fighter Squadron (FS) ‘Bolars’ and 494th FS ‘Panthers’. The Wing’s latest unit, the 495th FS ‘Valkyries’, and its new resident Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning IIs also participated in the event.
Joining the 48th FW at Lakenheath were five F-35As from the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF’s) No 322 Squadron, which are home-based at Leeuwarden Air Base in Friesland. The five Dutch F-35As (serials F-009, F-013, F-017, F-022, F-026) arrived at RAF Lakenheath as ‘Polly’ and ‘Slammer’ flights on August 23, before returning home to Leeuwarden straight after the exercise concluded two days later.
Taking place over the North Sea area, missions that were executed under Point Blank 22-4 also involved multiple RAF assets, including Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s and F-35B Lightning IIs, which operated from their home bases for the duration of the event. Another UK-based participant was Draken Europe, which added electronic warfare (EW) scenarios to the exercise with its fleet of Dassault Falcon 20s. The NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force (NAEW&CF) also participated in the event with one of its Boeing E-3A Sentry AEW&C aircraft, which operated from Geilenkirchen Air Base in Germany.