The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has deployed a C-17 strategic transport aircraft to conduct night flying training in Hungary.
The aircraft from RAF’s 99 Squadron will perform night vision goggle training at the Hungarian Air Force’s (HAF) airbase, Pápa.
The deployment, called Exercise Hungary Puma, is focussed on training with night vision goggles, benefiting from Pápa’s clear airspace and specialist lighting capabilities.
During the first day of training, a Saab Gripen fighter from the HAF’s 59/1 ‘Puma’ Squadron escorted the C-17.
99 Squadron pilot flight lieutenant Ben Mountfield said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for us to train at an airfield specifically designed for C-17s.
"It’s great to enjoy the free airspace around Pápa, which allows us to manoeuvre the aircraft to develop our tactical procedures.
"Our Nato allies here in Hungary have been so welcoming, they’re beyond reproach.
"We’re absolutely looking forward to working with them again."
The Pápa airbase is home to the Heavy Airlift Wing, an alliance of 12 countries that use the C-17 for long-range heavy airlift.
The members of the alliance include Bulgaria, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and the US.
The dedicated C-17 base’s capabilities will allow aircrew to train in the most demanding conditions, including night operations and assault landings.
HM Ambassador Iain Lindsay said: "It was fantastic to fly with the C-17 crew and to see an intercept by Gripens from the Hungarian Air Force.
"This is the first time we’ve seen the RAF working at Pápa; it’s a fantastic facility and I hope to see the RAF’s C-17s back here soon. There’s plenty of scope for us to see more cooperation in the future."
Image: The C-17 escorted by a Saab Gripen fighter from the HAF’s 59/1 ‘Puma’ Squadron. Photo: Crown Copyright.