Exercise Joint Warrior
April 2013 and exercise Joint Warrior is well under way around the UK and the North Sea. Over the last few years the Joint Warrior series of exercises have evolved and expanded, and now it is the largest military exercise held in Europe. Involving well over 12,000 personnel from at least 9 different nations, this two week exercise tests the full range of capabilities and scenarios. 49 warships are involved testing anti-piracy measures, and Maritime Patrol Aircraft from the USA, Canada, France and Brazil operate from RAF Lossiemouth for the duration. RAF Leuchars hosted the French Navy Carrier Air Group, and provided support for the exercise for helicopters, as well as the Aggressor roled Hawks from 100 Sqn at Leeming. The locally based 6 Sqn supplied a number of Typhoon aircraft for the exercise too, so Leuchars became an even busier fighter base than normal for a few weeks.
An invitation to view the activities at Leuchars close up was gladly taken, and following the welcome introductions it was quickly out on to the flightlines to watch the preparations for the mission. The main contingent was the French Navy Carrier Air Group, and this comprised Dassault Super Etendards from 17F, plus Rafale F2 and F3s from 11F and 12F, as well as the Hawkeye E-2C from 4F.
100 Sqn provided 4 Hawks to operate in the Aggressor role, and a number of Eurofighter Typhoons from 6 Sqn were provided as assets to the exercise too.
As the aircraft were readied for departure, we re-positioned to the runway mid-point to view the take-offs. Doubts over the early morning weather were dispelled as the usual Scottish east coast wall to wall sunshine broke through as the departures progressed.
Following departures we re-positioned again to slightly closer to the threshold for landings. We could not get as close as we would have liked due to operational restrictions caused by safe heading requirements of the armed exercise aircraft, as well as an ongoing active regular QRA mission by the based Typhoons.
After the last of the exercise participants had landed, we moved on to view the Fleet Air Arm Lynx helicopters which had recently arrived from participating warships in the North Sea.
Our final stop of the day was a ramp walk to view again the active aircraft, now safely returned and parked up.
Thanks must go to the RAF staff who organised the visit, also to Gill Howie at Squadron Prints for her tireless organisational activities, and also to all the RAF and French personnel who were happy to answer our questions throughout the day.