NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Point Blank exercise over North Sea tests US and RAF warplanes

CV22 Osprey Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The United States Air Force CV-22 Opsrey can take off and land like a helicopter

American military aircraft have joined UK fighter jets in a training exercise over the North Sea.

Exercise Point Blank, which included 35 aircraft from 10 units, aimed to hone how allies will fight in real world operations.

Among those taking part were a United States Air Force (USAF) CV-22 Osprey, which can take off and land like a helicopter but has aeroplane-style wings.

CV-22 Osprey being refuelled Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The tiltrotor CV-22 was refuelled over the sea by an MC-130J Commando II aircraft

The tiltrotor aircraft, which can carry up to 32 troops and has a machine gun on its ramp, was refuelled over the North Sea from a MC-130J Commando II.

The cargo plane, based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, flies clandestine or low-visibility refuelling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft.

It is also used to bring troops and supplies in and out of warzones.

MC-130J being refuelled by a KC-135 Stratotanker Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The MC-130J refuelling aircraft was itself supplied with extra fuel by a KC-135 Stratotanker

During the exercise it was in turn refuelled from a KC-135 Stratotanker refueller plane.

The US aircraft were joined by UK Typhoon fighter jets from RAF airbases at Coningsby in Lincolnshire and Lossiemouth in Moray, which also took part in the exercise.

The Point Blank exercise takes place annually. Speaking ahead of a previous iteration, RAF Air Commodore Jez Attridge said he could see the "challenge that Russia is giving to the international rules-based order", adding "we are the insurance policy".

MC130-J aircraft Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The exercise involved 35 aircraft including this MC130-J based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk

All images are copyrighted