Atlantic Trident 2017

 

On April 21, 2017, Zinger Aviation Media along with selected members of the media from the aviation community got together at Joint Base Langley-Eustis for a special event hosted by the 633rd Air Base Wing and the 1st Fighter Wing during a major trilateral exercise known as Atlantic Trident 2017.  This event featured aircraft from the United States Air Force, the Royal Air Force, and the French Air Force Armée de l'air.

Participating aircraft from the United States Air Force included two squadrons of F-15E Strike Eagles from the 366th Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB in Idaho, F-22A Raptors from the 1st Fighter at Langley, F-35A Lightning IIs from the 33rd Fighter Wing at Eglin AFB in Florida, T-38 Talons from the 71st Flying Training Squadron at Langley, and of course Eurofighter Typhoons from the Royal Air Force and Dassault Rafales from the French Air Force Armée de l'air.  Support aircraft in the exercise included a French Airbus A400M Atlas, two E-3CF Sentry aircraft from Tinker AFB in Oklahoma, and various tanker support including KC-10 Extenders from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.

An except from information provided to media included:

One hundred years after first fighting together over WWI's Western Front in 1917, the United States Air Force, Armée de l'air, and Royal Air Force will again make aviation history this April at Langley Air Force Base Virginia during ATLANTIC TRIDENT 17. 

Hosted the United States Air Force's 1st Fighter Wing, ATLANTIC TRIDENT 17 (AT17) will be the first exercise to feature all four of NATO's most advanced fighter jets; the F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, Dassault Rafale and Eurofighter Typhoon.  

AT 17 endeavors to develop, share and enhance interoperability "tactics training and procedures" (TTPs) across three NATO member Air Forces.  Based on a potential adversary's anti-access/area denial (A2AD) strategy, AT17 will challenge the maintainers, pilots and weapons systems of the world's leading fighter aircraft.

AT 17 also serves to remind all of the longstanding relationship between the airmen of these three democracies.  The 1st Fighter Wing's 27th and 94th Fighter Squadrons trace their lineage directly back to the skies over Flanders and France in the First World War alongside the Armée de l'air, and Royal Air Force.  100 years later, it is right and good that AT17 remembers and acknowledges that long history.

However, AT 17 isn't just about the past.  As it is the first time ever that these four jets will fly and fight together, AT17 will serve as a testbed for interoperability across the most advance 4th and 5th generation fighters, as well as across the three participating nations.  

While the exercise itself featured the aircraft above, what was also significant was the visit by the Patrouille de France, and one of the reasons Zinger Aviation Media applied to cover this event.  To commemorate the 100th anniversary of America's entry into World War I, the Patrouille de France came to the United States for a six week tour that included airshows in Melbourne, Florida; Lakeland, Florida; Maxwell AFB, Alabama; Sacramento, California; and a handful of private airshows and flyovers as well as visits with the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds.  With Atlantic Trident being held in April 2017, it was only appropriate for the Patrouille de France to fly a performance at Joint Base Langley-Eustis.

On the media day, high ranking members of the United States Armed Forces also visited Joint Base Langley-Eustis, and everyone was treated to an early morning private demonstration by America's premier stealth fighter, the F-22 Raptor.  Flying an excellent Raptor demonstration was Major Dan "Rock" Dickinson, the 2017 demonstration pilot.  Rock flew a demonstration at Langley nearly ten years since the first public full-up Raptor demonstration was flown - that was flown by now Colonel Paul "Max" Moga back on April 27, 2007.  Immediately following his demonstration, Captain Jean-Guillaume "Marty" Martinez took to the skies with a Dassault Rafale and flew a demonstration that was unlike anything normally seen by a military fighter at a North American airshow.  The aircraft used was a Rafale C adorned in markings worn by most Rafale aircraft of the French Air Force Armée de l'air.  This is noted because while flying airshows in Europe, the demonstration is flown in a Rafale specially painted for demonstrations only.  The flying display concluded with an absolutely amazing high show performance by the Patrouille de France.  It should be noted that the Patrouille de France last performed in the United States in 1986 and we would definitely welcome them back for another tour.

Following the flying displays, we were all bused over to the other side of Joint Base Langley-Eustis to the alert hangars.  While all members of the media were checked and had already gained access to the base, these hangars, located near Runway 8, were in an even more secure part of Joint Base Langley-Eustis.  Extra layers of security were in place (as is the norm) and access was then granted to get up close to a single F-22 Raptor, F-35A Lightning II, Eurofighter Typhoon, and Dassault Rafale.  It should be noted photography is normally prohibited in this part of the base, but on this day, photography was encouraged, but with specific limitations for each aircraft.  Aircrew and maintenance personnel were also on hand to provide interviews, photo opportunities, and answer questions about their respective aircraft.  Most of the photos provided on this page were taken at the alert hangars, as much of the event was dedicated to video.

Finally, members of the media were treated to a mass launch of aircraft participating in that day's sorties.  All media members were taken to the same location from earlier in the morning for the demonstrations.  Public affairs called all photo opportunities from the mass launch and the demonstrations to be in an airshow-type environment.  Having covered every edition of AirPower Over Hampton Roads since 2002, Zinger Aviation Media can confirm this to be true; everyone was positioned in a location that would be considered far show left for AirPower Over Hampton Roads; yet, lined up approximately fifty feet closer to Runway 8/26.  Having never experienced a Red Flag media day, where media is taken to a location between the runways at Nellis AFB, the opportunity and vantage point offered at Joint Base Langley-Eustis was excellent.  As Runway 26 was the active runway that day, F-15E Strike Eagles, Eurofighter Typhoons, and Dassault Rafales were all staged on a smaller ramp to the left, and had to taxi by from left to right in front of everyone before taking off.  Getting the opportunity to get up close to Typhoons and Rafales taxiing by in the United States is something not normally offered.  Over thirty aircraft took to the skies in approximately thirty minutes, which included representatives of all of the participants listed above.

Enjoy the videos and the photos from Atlantic Trident 2017.  While there are a few other videos that were also filmed that day, the mass launch features tower and aircraft communication that isn't found in the others.

Atlantic Trident 2017 Videos

F-22 Raptor Demonstration

Dassault Rafale Demonstration

Patrouille de France Performance

Interviews with F-22 Demo Team & Patrouille de France

Mass Launch of Exercise Aircraft

Photos in the slideshow were taken during the Atlantic Trident media event.  Apologies for the large copyrights in each photo - this is necessary in this day and age where photos are widely stolen and passed along as if they are one's own.

Zinger Aviation Media would like to extend a huge thank you to all members of the 633rd Air Base Wing and the 1st Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office for making this possible!