RAF Typhoons test tactical refuelling concept in Norway

Royal Air Force (RAF)-operated Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4s from RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland, have completed a proof of concept exercise in Norway, which tested tactical ground-based refuelling capabilities at a dispersed forward operating location.

As part of this exercise, the Typhoons flew from RAF Lossiemouth to Bodø Main Air Station in Norway’s Nordland county to test the tactical refuelling concept. The multi-role fighters were supported by an RAF-operated Airbus A330-243MRTT Voyager KC2/KC3 multi-role tanker transport and A400M Atlas C1 heavy-lift tactical transport from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, for the duration of the deployment.

RAF Typhoon proof of concept refuelling exercise in Norway 07-21 [MOD Crown Copyright/Royal Air Force]
An RAF-operated Eurofighter Typhoon FGR4 is refuelled on the ground by support crews at Bodø Main Air Station in Norway’s Nordland county as part of the proof of concept tactical refuelling exercise on July 7, 2021. The British multi-role fighters involved in this operation were from No 2 (Army Cooperation) Squadron at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray, Scotland. MOD Crown Copyright/SAC Ciaran McFalls 

The RAF announced the successful completion of this exercise on July 20, adding that it involved the creation of a self-sufficient, multi-skilled RAF team, which was embedded within the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) base. “The team would then be capable of conducting air operations at short notice and away from the Typhoons main operating base in Scotland,” it said.

This deployment is one of the first to take place in a series of exercises, which seek to develop the interoperability skills needed to work with NATO allies and partners from multiple dispersed locations across Europe at short notice. “A key element of the concept is the ability to tactically refuel Typhoons from the ground, which is needed to achieve the dispersed operation of the aircraft,” the RAF added.

Col John Olsen, an RNoAF colonel with the Norwegian Defence Attaché in the UK, said: “This bilateral training improves the speed at which highly capable air forces, across the NATO partnership, can deliver decisive airpower from several dispersed locations. Therefore, enforcing a more agile, and integrated, approach with our allies. The joint training conducted by both the [RNoAF] and the RAF strengthens the effectiveness of NATO airpower.”

RAF Typhoon FGR4 and RNoAF F-16AMs over Norwegian Sea 07-07-21 [MOD Crown Copyright/SAC Ciaran McFalls]
A pair of RNoAF-operated Lockheed Martin F-16AM (MLU) Fighting Falcons flank an RAF Typhoon FGR4 over the Norwegian Sea during an integration training flight on July 7, 2021. This recent proof of concept exercise is designed to develop the interoperability skills needed for NATO allies to deploy to forward locations at short notice. MOD Crown Copyright/SAC Ciaran McFalls

Additionally, this proof of concept exercise provided RAF Typhoon pilots with an opportunity to further develop and practice joint tactics and procedures through integration training with two RNoAF-operated Lockheed Martin F-16AM (MLU) Fighting Falcons over the Norwegian Sea.

AVM Ian Duguid, air officer commanding the RAF’s No 11 Group and the UK’s Global Air Component commander, added: “This was an excellent opportunity for the RAF to operate alongside one of our NATO partners. This integrated activity demonstrated our ability to deploy, integrate and recover our assets in an agile, short notice manner. This small footprint strengthens the flexible employment of airpower across the NATO partnership.”