RAF Typhoons fly with Egyptian Air Force after two decades

Royal Air Force (RAF)-operated Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s currently deployed as part of the 903 Expeditionary Air Wing at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus flew with Egyptian Air Force F-16 Block 52 Fighting Falcons during Exercise Bright Star 21 over Egypt.

Announced by the RAF on October 12, the manoeuvres took place over northwest Egypt and aimed to test interoperability between the UK and partner forces. This exercise marked the first time since 2001 that RAF assets had flown alongside the Egyptian Air Force. 

Formation flight during Bright Star
RAF Typhoon FGR4s and USAF F-15E Strike Eagles fly in formation Egyptian and Greek F-16C/D Block 52 Fighting Falcons over Egypt and the symbolic Pyramids of Giza during Exercise Bright Star 21. MOD Crown Copyright/Royal Air Force

The RAF Typhoons and Egyptian F-16s were also joined by Hellenic Air Force Fighting Falcons and multiple US Air Force (USAF) platforms, comprising F-15E Strike Eagles fighters, B-52H Stratofortress long-range strategic bombers and a C-130J Super Hercules tactical transport.

While most of the participating aircraft flew from Cairo West Air Base, the RAF Typhoons operated from RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus, for the duration of the event. The British fighters were supported by an RAF-operated Airbus A330-243MRTT Voyager KC2, which provided an air-to-air refuelling capability during the exercise. The Voyager was also flown from RAF Akrotiri.

RAF Typhoon AAR Refuel
An RAF Typhoon FGR4 receives fuel from an A330-243MRTT Voyager KC2 during a transit flight from RAF Akrotiri to Egypt. MOD Crown Copyright/Royal Air Force

Wg Cdr ‘Dutch’ Holland, commanding officer of the 903 Expeditionary Air Wing, said: "Exercises such as 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." 

Exercise Bright Star has been running biannually since 1980, in cooperation with the USAF, although the event in 2020 was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The exercise was created with a rationale to broker peace between Egypt and Israel.