Two British Royal Air Force F-35 combat aircraft successfully hit their target off the coast of Saaremaa island, Estonia. The mock-attack was controlled by land-based British and French JTACs from NATO eFP Battlegroup Estonia with Estonian and U.S. JTAC experts observing.
Meanwhile, Swedish and Spanish fighter jets roared in skies above. The Saaremaa-based action was an "exercise-within-an-exercise", as NATO's Neptune Strike 23-3 wound to a close. Within Neptune Strike, in just the past few days alone, Allied fighters, aircraft carriers, ships and troops conducted missions across the territory of ten Allied nations as well as the Mediterranean, Baltic and North Seas.
The associated training operation on Saarema was designed to test the interoperability of NATO aircraft and ground controllers of Allied armies in Estonia. The two F-35 B Lightnings of 617 Squadron took off from the HMS Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in the Atlantic. At the same time British, French, Estonian and U.S. JTACs poured over maps and communicated grid references to the F-35 pilots as they sped eastward across the Baltic.
The successful training operation involved the NATO battlegroup in Estonia, consisting of about 1,000 U.K. and French forces. While primarily focused on land operations, the battlegroup regularly conducts integration exercises involving the air, land and sea domains.