WATCH: Canada’s debut in Exercise Cobra Warrior

Maple leaves are taking to the air now we are in autumn, however other ‘maple leaves’ are being seen airborne in the UK – namely those worn by Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188A Hornets and a CC-150T Polaris taking part in Exercise Cobra Warrior 23-2.

The first three Hornets (s/ns 188735, 188757 and 188774) touched down at Glasgow Prestwick Airport on Monday, August 28. The most likely reason for using the Scottish airport was due to it being a Bank Holiday in England, meaning their final destination of RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire was closed. This trio of aircraft continued to Waddington on August 30. The same day the remaining four CF-188As (188730, 188736, 188742 and 188782) flew direct from Canada to the Lincolnshire base.

The Hornet pilots have also taken advantage of UK’s low flying system for additional training. For instance, bad weather prevented a flight of Hornets from using Low Flying Area 7 (LFA7) in Wales on August 31, however an improved forecast the following week enabled a pair CF-188A Hornets on two consecutive days to undertake low-level training. On September 7 and 8 a pair of Hornets utilised LFA7, which included using the Mach Loop, as seen in this video. A further visit was made to LFA7 today, September 15.

More than 140 RCAF personnel have deployed to the UK for the exercise, the majority being from the Hornet unit (433 Tactical Fighter Squadron) which hails from CFB Bagotville, Quebec. RAF Lossiemouth in Moray is hosting personnel from 437 Transport Squadron at CFB Trenton in Ontario, as a CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refuelling tanker (s/n 15005) from the unit is flying from the Scottish base. Plus, four air battle managers are detached to RAF Boulmer in Northumberland.

A CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refuelling tanker from 437 Transport Squadron is operating from RAF Lossiemouth for the exercise.
A CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refuelling tanker from 437 Transport Squadron is operating from RAF Lossiemouth for the exercise. Royal Canadian Air Force

The second Cobra Warrior exercise of the year started on September 4 and is due to finish on the 22nd. The RCAF states the exercise will develop interoperability with allies and partners by exercising composite air operations in a contested, degraded and operationally limited environment. Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Lawrence, Air Task Force Commander for Canada’s involvement in this training event said: “Exercise Cobra Warrior provides an invaluable opportunity for NATO allies and partners to train together in developing operational tactics in the air.”

Lieutenant-General Eric Kenny, Commander Royal Canadian Air Force commented: “Exercises like Cobra Warrior provide highly valuable training not only for our members, but also those of our allies and partners, to practice working together in a wide variety of tactical combat scenarios that they could face on real world operations.”

Two of the seven Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188A Hornets that have deployed to the RAF Waddington for Exercise Cobra Warrior 23-2.
Two of the seven Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188A Hornets that have deployed to the RAF Waddington for Exercise Cobra Warrior 23-2. Royal Canadian Air Force

 Cobra Warrior is the largest exercise organised by the RAF. In a change from recent editions of the exercise, sorties are being conducted each day rather than every second day, and the third week will include night flying.

Exercise Cobra Warrior is run by 92 Squadron, along with the RAF’s Air and Space Warfare Centre. This biannual exercise is designed to provide participants with high intensity large force tactical training.