Joint US-UK-French Air Force Exercise Simulates Russian Air Defenses in Kaliningrad

French Mirage and British Typhoon jets training together, Oct. 13, 2013The U.S. is seeking to step up military exercises with the air forces of critical European allies to strengthen deterrence against increasingly provocative behavior by Russian military aircraft, U.S. officials said.

U.S. Air Force officials met their French counterparts in Paris this week to discuss more military exercises and to assess recent drills aimed at improving the ability to fight Russia’s well-trained and technologically sophisticated forces.

U.S. Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Thursday in an interview that more exercises and preparation were needed to curb aggressive tactics by Russian planes.

“Here in Europe, reassurance is good but what we really need to focus on is deterrence. And deterrence depends on credibility,” Ms. James said….

The U.S. Air Force hosted an exercise in Langley, Virginia, last year with the U.K. and France that was designed to test the ability of pilots to maneuver against fighter planes similar to those used by Russia’s military.

The exercise also tried to simulate the kinds of sophisticated air defenses Russia has deployed in Kaliningrad.

“We practiced the high-end fight,” Ms. James said.

Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force vice chief of staff, was also in Paris Thursday with meetings with his counterparts to review the Langley exercise and discuss future work with the French air force, officials said.

Image: French Mirage and British Typhoon jets training together, Oct. 13, 2013 (photo: UK Ministry of Defense)