Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35B Lightning II aircraft have taken part in a major missile training excercise over the last 10 days which saw them fire a total of 53 Advanced Short Range Air to Air Missiles (ASRAAM) at target drones.
The live firing training took place over the sea at the Hebrides Air Weapons Ranges in Scotland and was the largest mass-firing operation of infra-red ASRAAM missiles ever conducted by the UK.
Typhoons from RAF Lossiemouth, and RAF Conningsby, the UK’s two Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) bases, took part in the training as well as Lightning squadrons from RAF Marham including the famous 617 squadron.
Speaking about the training, one pilot from RAF Lossiemouth said: “It surpassed all expectations of what my first live firing exercise on the Typhoon would be. Selecting the weapon and knowing a live missile would come off the rail was a unique moment; hearing the missile tone and pulling the trigger, followed by a large whoosh sound and a slight wobble of the aircraft was fantastic.
“Watching the missile disappear into the sky in front of me was a moment to remember, it really is impressive how fast the Advanced Short Range Air-to-Air Missiles can go. The experience has given me a real appreciation of the capability of the missile and how it can be employed in a real combat situation.”
The training was also a chance for RAF Technicians to gain crucial experience of handling and loading live weapons.
Technicians from IX(B) Squadron Weapons Technicians added: “Seeing the preparation of the aircraft and missiles was crucial to the more junior members on the Squadron, it gave them the opportunity to understand the challenges of a live weapon firing exercise. Operating armed aircraft requires all those involved to maintain the highest levels of concentration due to the extra risks involved.
“As a Weapons Technician you get massive job satisfaction when you’ve loaded the aircraft, carried out all the post-load testing and watched it taxy away armed. When the aircraft returns “clean” having successfully fired its missiles, it validates the years of training, the hard work and months of preparation.”
The missile used in the training is the type is carried on Quick Reaction Alert (QRA) missions to protect the UK’s airspace and keep hostile aircraft from attacking.