Royal Air Force hosts large-scale international air exercise in UK

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This Image shows Royal Saudi Air Force C130 transport aircraft at RAF Waddington bringing equipment for Exercise COBRA WARRIOR. Photographer: Sgt Nicholas Howe RAF - UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

International participants taking part in the long planned biannual Ex Cobra Warrior have begun the mission element of this large-scale air exercise in the UK that will run for the duration of March 2023.

Exercise Cobra Warrior is run biannually and is the largest air exercise run by the Royal Air Force. 

The exercise is designed to train exercise participants in high intensity large force tactical air war fighting operations. The exercise will take place until the 24 March and will see over 70 aircraft taking part and is being controlled by directing staff at RAF Waddington.

Group Captain Mark Lorriman-Hughes, the RAF Waddington station Commander said:

“It is wonderful to once again to welcome our fellow RAF and international colleagues to RAF Waddington to participate in the world class air exercise that is Exercise Cobra Warrior.  This event provides an invaluable opportunity for international allies to train together in developing operational tactics in the air”.

Taking part this year for the first time are contingents from the Finnish, Indian and Royal Saudi Air Forces.  The Saudis will be flying six Typhoons from RAF Coningsby. The Indian Air Force will be flying five Mirage 2000 jets supported in the air-to-air fuelling from RAF Brize Norton. 

This Image shows a Finnish Air Force F-18 Fighter Jet at RAF Waddington for Exercise COBRA WARRIOR 23-1. Photographer: Sgt Nicholas Howe RAF Copyright: UK MOD © Crown copyright 2023

Also, based at RAF Waddington will be Belgian Air Force F-16s and Finnish Air Force F-18 Hornets. The Finnish participation is part of a wider training activity in support of the UK led Joint Expeditionary Force, that is known as JEF Warrior.  

The fast jets will also be supported by RAF Voyagers conducting air-to-air Tanking operations, flying from RAF Brize Norton.  In addition, UK Joint Helicopter command aircraft will be based at RAF Leeming and participating in the exercise. The RAF’s Air Mobility Force will also be taking part in the exercise deploying elements of 16 Air Assault Brigade during an associated ground mission that forms part of the overall exercise scenario.

Officer Commanding 92 Squadron, Squadron Leader John McFadden, from the squadron that coordinates this exercise said:

“We are looking forward to delivering Exercise Cobra Warrior 23-1.  92 Sqn have developed a challenging Air-led multi-domain exercise focussed on pitting our NATO, JEF and International partners against a capable peer adversary within a contested degraded and operationally limited threat environment.” 

For the RAF one other key aspect of the exercise is that it gives the opportunity to complete the training within the Mission Employment Phase for future RAF Weapons Instructors. The level of training combined with the variety of training partners helps to achieve the required standards within the Weapons School Criteria.

Source: MOD

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