Ex Yorknite is the Swiss Air Force’s annual night flying training exercise designed to develop its pilot’s night flying skills and qualifications. It also has a core rationale to strengthen ties between the Swiss Air Force and the RAF, plus other NATO partners present in the UK, such as USAFE.
Serials J-5001, J-5003, J-5005, J-5012, J-5013, J-5016, J-5018, J-5232, J-5234 and J-5238 are the airframes that are being used by the three Swiss fighter squadrons - Fliegerstaffel 11, 17 and 18 - during the month long exercise.
The Swiss travel over to the UK due to flying restrictions put in place back home in Switzerland to avoid avalanches during night flying in the winter. The UK provides plenty of opportunity to work multiple ranges and the low level areas on route to the training areas.
The six Swiss Hornets were due to arrive on November 14, but due to heavy fog across the UK, their arrival into RAF Leeming was delayed by 24 hours. Serial J-5003 experienced an inflight issue and had to return to Payerne Air Base in Switzerland, but later made it across to the UK on November 17.
During Ex Yorknite 2021, three Swiss Cougar helicopters were present during the exercise and exploited the UK’s RAF Spadeadam range for Electronic Warfare training. The Cougars will not take part in Yorknite 2022. Confirming this, a member of the Swiss Cougar detachment told AirForces Monthly: “Unfortunately, it only covers about 60% of our training needs we have on such a module abroad. And we can train almost everything in Switzerland.”