RAF kicks off Exercise Crimson Warrior

The Royal Air Force (RAF) announced on October 20 that Exercise Crimson Warrior - the air arm's largest military exercise in over a decade - had begun.

Exercise Crimson Warrior began on October 19 and will end on November 5 with specialist staff from 92 Squadron at RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire. At its peak, the exercise will see more than 70 aircraft conduct high intensity tactical training together over the North East of England and the North Sea. This comprises fast jets, multi-engine aircraft and helicopters from the RAF, Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm (FAA), US Air Force (USAF) and US Marine Corps (USMC).

RAF/USMC F-35B [MoD Crown Copyright/SAC Tim Laurence]
During Exercise Crimson Warrior, Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II fifth-generation multi-role stealth fighters from both the RAF and the USMC will conduct further training together as the two air arms prepare to embark on HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) for the aircraft carrier's first operational deployment in 2021. MoD Crown Copyright/SAC Tim Laurence 

Crimson Warrior is a development of the UK’s regular Cobra Warrior exercises, which the RAF states are “widely regarded as the most challenging training for aircrew.” In this expanded exercise, land-based training scenarios have been included for the RAF/USMC-operated Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning IIs and helicopters that will join HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08) for its maiden deployment next year.

Gp Capt Rob Barrett, the director of the exercise, said: “Exercise Crimson Warrior is the largest and most complicated flying exercise we have held for many years and it is a vital part of the preparation for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first operational deployment.

“The exercise will challenge participants from both the UK and US’ air forces in the full range of air and space power roles, and it has been just as much of a challenge to organise and run, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he added.

The RAF stated that Crimson Warrior will “develop and test” the tactical leadership of aircrew and support personnel in highly complex scenarios. It adds that “the aim is to develop their abilities to devise, plan and practice tactics and procedures in a realistic environment against a capable simulated adversary.”