RAF to carry out ACE deployment in Outer Hebrides

Commencing November 29, the RAF will deploy both aircraft and personnel to Stornoway Airport on the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, for a training exercise to develop the Agile Combat Employment (ACE) concept.

Dubbed Exercise Agile Pirate, the ACE training exercise will see RAF Typhoon FGR4s from RAF Lossiemouth, Scotland, and Airbus A400M from RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, operate from Stornoway Airport. Approximately 60 RAF personnel from a variety of squadrons will also deploy to the remote Island for the practice of refuelling and rearming of RAF Typhoon FRG4s from a forward location.  

RAF typhoon FGR4 carries out a performance take off towards the Scottish skies in full afterburner. Royal Air Force

Agile Pirate exercise planner, Sqn Ldr Astle, said: "The next few days will test our ability with the minimum footprint of people and kit to receive, debrief, re-arm, refuel and rebrief a combat air capability.”

ACE is a new concept not only being practiced by the RAF but by US Air Forces in Europe and NATO allies. The concept has an objective to provide the RAF with the capability to operate with short notice from various locations with a minor footprint of personnel and equipment, with a targeted outcome of increased force flexibility and resilience. The concept is being developed and implemented throughout a series of training exercises scheduled over the next three years. 

RAF Regiment soldier guards a Airbus A400M during an ERO operation at a remote location. Royal Air Force

Astle explained further: “In short bursts of activity, we will use an A400M to bring in kit and directly refuel our in-situ fuel bowser to support the Typhoon – an activity delivered by 1 Expeditionary Logistics Squadron from RAF Wittering. 

“At the same time, 6 Squadron engineers will service and simulate re-arming the aircraft while the crews take advantage of our deployed comms capability to debrief and rebrief prior to re-launching. All of this under the watchful eye of a deployed team from 34 Squadron RAF Regiment and other security specialists providing an enclave protection and counter-intruder capability."

Stornoway Airport was selected by the RAF as the forward operating base of Exercise Agile Pirate due to its remote location.