A French A-3330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Phénix refueled two French Rafale fighter jets and four U.S. Navy F/A-18E fighters enabling a combined and joint Air Shielding mission above Hungary.
The French fighters from 4th Fighter Wing took off at Saint-Dizier air base in France and were joined by four U.S. Navy F/A-18E fighter aircraft which launched from the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group that arrived in the Mediterranean Sea in August on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa (NAVEUR-NAVAF) area of operations.
The Joint Force Air Component at Allied Air Command oversaw the aircraft sorties, the team planned and coordinated the air-to-air refueling missions and ensuring air patrols. The activities were part of the ongoing Neptune Series vigilance activities, integrating carrier strike and amphibious strike capability into NATO operations.
“The Neptune series is a tangible demonstration of the power and capability of the NATO Alliance in all domain operations,” said Vice Admiral Thomas Ishee, commander Naval Striking and Support Forces NATO and U.S. Sixth Fleet. “This is a prime example of NATO’s ability to integrate high-end maritime warfare capabilities of an allied carrier strike group, ensuring our collective ability to deter and defend,” Admiral Ishee added.
The Air Shielding mission was conducted as French-US joint activity under overall NATO coordination. It showcases that is has become routine work for the battle planners to generate effects in the maritime, air and land domains, providing deterrence and reassurance, and offering powerful opportunities for Allied interoperability.