RAF jets shoot down 53 drones in the largest air-to-air missile mass-firing exercise

Three RAF airfields hosted Typhoon and Lightning fighter planes. One pilot described the experience as “fantastic”.

In the largest-ever mass firing of short-range, advanced air-to-air missiles, RAF jets destroyed 53 drones.

In just 10 days, eight pilots from eight different squadrons shot down dozens of drones at sea at the Hebrides Air Weapon Ranges (Scotland) last month.

The test involved Typhoon and Lightning aircraft. It was designed to give pilots and weapons crews real-world experience firing infrared-guided rockets and help them feel confident using them.

The exercise was captured on video and shows missiles being launched from planes and then rocketing through space.

As the missiles pass the planes on their way to their drone targets, you can hear a whoosh.

One participant described the experience of firing the missiles as “fantastic”.

He stated, “It exceeded all my expectations for what my first live firing exercise during a Typhoon would turn out to be.”

“Selecting the weapon was an amazing moment. Hearing the missile tone and pulling on the trigger was incredible. The aircraft then made a loud whoosh sound followed by a slight wobble.

“It was amazing how fast the ASRAAM can travel, watching the missile disappear in the sky in front of me was an incredible moment.”

Pilots were targeting Banshee drones that had been specifically made for such training exercises.

During the exercise, Typhoon pilots from RAF Lossiemouth, Moray, and RAF Coningsby, Lincoln, collaborated with Lightning pilots based in RAF Marham, Kings Lynn.

One of the weapons technicians who assisted in the preparation of the aircraft stated that it was important for the junior squadrons to see the preparation of the missiles and aircraft. It gave them an opportunity to learn about the challenges involved in live weapon firing exercises.

“Operating an armed aircraft requires that all involved maintain the highest level of concentration due the additional risks involved.

“As a weapon technician, you have a lot of satisfaction after you’ve loaded the aircraft and done all the post-load testing. Then you can watch it take off armed.

“When an aircraft is able to successfully fire its missiles after it has returned ‘clean’, it validates all the hard work, years of training and months of preparation.”

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