For the first time, the Atlantic Trident exercise organized by NATO from May 17 to 28, 2021, is held in Europe. The event is taking place at the Mont-de-Marsan Air Base in southwestern France. This third edition of the exercise brings together the Rafales of the French Air Force, the Typhoons of the Royal Air Force, and the fifth-generation F-35B of the United States Air Force.

The HMS Queen Elizabeth of the Royal Navy and its 18 F-35Bs are also expected to participate. 

“Atlantic Trident will notably be the first international exercise in which the new aircraft carrier HMS  Queen Elizabeth will be deployed,” said Captain Jonathan Farrow, the liaison officer in France for the Royal Air Force.

“The trilateral exercise’s focus will be on the constant modernization of the three air forces, innovation and technological performance to better enable them to protect the integrity of an area or a territory,” NATO explained.

In addition to the fighter jets, the drill also includes KC-135, A330 MRTT (Phoenix and Voyager) tankers, and airborne early warning and control aircraft.

As part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the three air forces are used to participate in the same operations. However, they rarely operate from the same bases. Thus, exercises such as Atlantic Trident allow the crews to share their experiences during mutual debriefings. 

This exercise is carried out within the framework of the Trilateral Strategic Initiative that regroups the three countries. The first two editions, in 2015 and 2017, took place in Langley Air Force Base, in the United States.