The Atlas departed from RAF Brize Norton, on the 3 July and flew nonstop for 22 hours to Guam, being refuelled on the way three times, once over the Atlantic, once over Alaska and finally over the Pacific Ocean. During the flight the route also took the Atlas closer to the North pole over the Arctic ice cap than any previous flight by this aircraft type.
The first refuelling was carried out by a Voyager from 10/101 Sqn flying from the UK and the second and third refuelling being carried out by a second Voyager that was operating from the United States Airforce Eielson Airbase in Alaska.
“Exercise Mobility Guardian is an outstanding training opportunity for the Air Mobility Force; it allows us to demonstrate the speed, reach and utility of the RAF, underpinned by the assets from the Air Mobility Force, and reinforces our ability to rapidly conduct global Air Operations. The non-stop flight of the A400M Atlas from RAF Brize Norton to Guam is a great example of our ability to project air power, allowing us to get aircraft, crews and vital equipment to the other side of the world in a timely manner and for them to be able to operate immediately,” said Air Commodore Lyle RAF’s Air Mobility Force Commander.
In addition to the strategic demonstration of the UK’s commitment to operate in the region, Flight Lieutenant York, from Voyager Force Training Flight said:
“From an aircrew perspective this has been a challenging and rewarding sortie for all, to enable long-range projection of the RAF Air Mobility Fleet. The planning has been significant as well as the benefits of exercising long-range strategic air to air refuelling with another large aircraft type, conducted from forward-operating airports.”
On arrival in Guam, the Atlas together with a RAF Voyager, elements from the Tactical Medical Wing and other supporting personnel from across the RAF will join the exercise. In addition to the US aircraft taking part in Mobility Guardian, the RAF detachment will be joined by aircraft and personnel from Australia, Canada, France, Japan and New Zealand.
The exercise is the latest example of the importance that the UK gives to this region as the training area stretches from Northern Australia to Japan and then across the Pacific to Hawaii. The object of the exercise is for the countries involved to develop their interoperability skills and understanding and so to be able to deliver Air Power if required and overcome the concept of ‘The Tyranny of Distance’.
During the exercise it is planned that sorties will be flown from and to Japan. Such activities by the RAF demonstrate the UK’s commitment to the recently signed Hiroshima Accord between the UK and Japan. This accord emphasises that the security and prosperity of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are inseparable. The UK and Japan, by strengthening shared security capabilities, help safeguard global peace and stability.