A joint UK, French and US exercise saw fighter jets from all three countries being deployed from a North Yorkshire airbase.

RAF Typhoons working with French Rafale and US F-35 jets have practised responding to an attack on their main operating bases. As part of Exercise Atlantic Trident they were informed mid-air that their home bases had been denied and they were to disperse and relocate to RAF Leeming.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Two RAF F35s from HMS Queen Elizabeth

After successfully relocating to a remote corner of the airbase, they established secure communications with HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Diamond to activate UK F-35s to provide support, and connected with command and control centres on the ground and in the air to receive tasking orders; including counter-air missions to protect the Carrier Support Group which was patrolling in the North Sea.

Darlington and Stockton Times: HMS Queen Elizabeth  Picture: Royal Navy

Typhoons and F-35Bs showed their adaptability, with Typhoons switching their role mid-air from air-to-air patrol to air-to-surface attack. French Navy jets also joined the operation.

Darlington and Stockton Times: French Air Force Rafale fighter jet

The UK’s F-35s stayed on mission for four hours by "hot-pitting" on the carrier – to refuel and simulate rearming with engines running. Jets remained airborne by being air-to-air refuelled by French MRTT, US KC135 and RAF Voyager aircraft.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Royal Navy Merlin helicopter from HMS Queen Elizabeth

Several of the Royal Navy carrier’s fleet of giant Merlin helicopters victualled via Teesside Airport.

Air Marshal Harv Smyth, Air and Space Commander, said: “To ensure we are prepared for all scenarios, such as bases being denied or under threat, the RAF needs to be able to relocate our capabilities from their home bases to other locations.

Darlington and Stockton Times: USAF F35 takes off from RAF Leeming

“This joint exercise has been a huge success and has surpassed all expectations.”