UK – Air, land and sea forces combine for Exercise Joint Warrior

A tri-Service and multinational military exercise, with a total of 8,000 personnel taking part, begins this week at locations around the UK.

Naval assets taking part in a previous Exercise Joint Warrior (stock image) [Picture: LA(Phot) A J MacLeod, Crown Copyright/MOD 2010]
Source: Ministry of Defence, UK
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Exercise Joint Warrior is conducted in the spring and autumn of each year, and the first Joint Warrior of 2012 (JW 121) is taking place between 16 and 26 April. The exercise provides co-ordinated training for all three UK Armed Services, along with visiting forces from allied nations such as the US, Denmark, Norway, France, Canada, Germany and the Netherlands.

As part of the exercise, aircrew from RAF Leeming are joining with their French counterparts to provide ‚enemy forces‘ for what is Europe’s largest tactically-focused military exercise.

The combined efforts of RAF Leeming-based 100 Squadron and 2/2 Cote d’Or Squadron from Dijon will add a unique ‚red air‘ or adversary challenge for those on the exercise.

Last week, the two squadrons worked together to prepare for Joint Warrior, building on relationships which were formed when 100 Squadron deployed to Dijon last year for Exercise Epias. Whilst in France, it quickly became apparent that the two units‘ very similar roles and attitudes to sorties would enable full integration of their different capabilities.

Officer Commanding 100 Squadron, Wing Commander Christian Gleave, said:

„When we mixed the two aircraft types together, what was produced was something that was greater than the sum of its parts – very much a symbiotic capability.

„The French Air Force is almost exactly the same as the RAF in its approach to air power and 2/2 Squadron has an almost identical role to ourselves. We will be completely integrated as one aggressor force for the duration of Joint Warrior, although 100 Squadron will lead most sorties because of protocol.

„Our jets are very similar in terms of performance, although the fact that the Alpha jet has two engines and a bigger wing means that it will be able to present an adversary that those on exercise – such as Typhoon – may not be expecting.“

Major Ludo Meffre, Officer Commanding 2/2 Cote d’Or Squadron, is also feeling very positive about the benefits of Joint Warrior for all involved. He said:

„100 Squadron and us could be considered twins because our missions are exactly the same. Our two forces have come up with exactly the same solution to training aircrew for the front line. I enjoy working with the RAF because they are very professional and have high standards. It is a pleasure to work with them, and everyone learns a lot.“

Meanwhile, maritime forces have assembled a task group of a similar configuration to that which stood up to support UN Security Council Resolution 1973 where NATO forces stepped in a year ago to protect the Libyan people from destruction by forces loyal to dictator Colonel Gaddafi. The units being tested under Joint Warrior would be the ones who would be used again under similar circumstances.

As well as Royal Navy warships, minehunters, survey ships, patrol boats, a submarine and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay, members of 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines will also be in attendance to practise their amphibious skills. This is a work-up of their core function – their ability to project military power from the sea to land.

45 Commando, part of the brigade, is set to be the lead Royal Marines high-readiness unit from this month, with Joint Warrior confirming that they are ready to deploy at short notice on both amphibious and land operations. Called the Lead Commando Group (LCG) they come under the umbrella of 3 Commando Brigade and, for Joint Warrior, also under Commander UK Task Group, Commodore Paddy McAlpine:

„Everyone on the exercise, including the LCG, are training as if they were on their way to war,“ said Captain Titterton before the exercise started.

„45 Commando will be embarking on Bulwark and Illustrious on April 14 and 15 and then doing their amphibious training such as landing craft operations before being tasked to raid Galloway Forest from which they will undertake their field training.“

Army representation includes troops from 16 Air Assault Brigade who have today focused on a theatre entry operation into a notional country. The Airborne Task Force (ABTF) used a combination of parachute, air assault and tactical air landings from a C-130 Hercules to seize and secure the airfield at West Freugh.

Once it had landed, the task force, based around the 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland Battle Group, continued to defend the airfield and subsequently conducted several more air assault operations to defeat a notional enemy force. The exercise involved more than 1,600 troops and was supported by Apache, Chinook and Royal Navy Sea King helicopters from the Joint Helicopter Force.

RAF fast jets and support aircraft, as well as several US and French aircraft, will take part in Joint Warrior, and this year the ABTF is joined by a number of personnel from the French 11th Parachute Brigade.

Press release
Ministry of Defence, UK

UK – Navy minehunter in Gulf exercises with US Navy Royal Navy minehunter HMS Middleton has recently flexed her hunting prowess during a recent exercise with the US Navy in the Gulf.

Royal Navy Hunt Class minehunter HMS Middleton with a US Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter sweeping for mines from the skies above [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Ministry of Defence, UK
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As part of their regular practice searching for mines in the warmer waters of the Gulf, the ship’s company worked alongside their coalition counterparts to exercise their already well-established techniques.

For the ten-day exercise, the US Navy deployed their MH-53E Sea Dragon – a specially designed helicopter that can sweep for mines from the air.

Finding 13 dummy mines that had been laid by friendly forces was a successful haul for HMS Middleton, particularly as the temperature of the water can make it more difficult for the ship’s sonar to detect ordnance; the water weakens the returning signal so the mine warfare teams have to be more precise with their searches.

Sub-Lieutenant Christopher Chew, Navigating Officer of HMS Middleton, said:

„The ability to work closely with other units, particularly from different nations, allows HMS Middleton to be constantly ready to be deployed anywhere in the world whatever the scenario.“

There are four Royal Navy minehunters based in Bahrain – currently HMS Middleton, Ramsey, Quorn and Pembroke – and the skills learned from working in the shallow waters helped the personnel from HMS Bangor and HMS Brocklesby last year when they found and destroyed mines laid by Colonel Gaddafi’s regime off the coast of Libya.

With over a week spent at sea for the exercise, HMS Middleton also took the opportunity to replenish her supplies. Bringing HMS Middleton alongside Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Lyme Bay allowed the minehunter to take on fuel, ammunition and food without having to head back into harbour.

HMS Middleton will continue to carry out operations in the Gulf until later this year when she is due to head back to the UK.

Press release
Ministry of Defence, UK