CFB COLD LAKE, Alta. ─ The pilots, crews and aircraft of several nations are flying alongside members of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) in an international live-fly military exercise hosted by 4 Wing Cold Lake throughout the month of June.
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“Through our leadership in international operations over Libya and in Afghanistan, we have demonstrated our commitment to global peace and security,” said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. “This major exercise is an extension of the responsibility we have to both Canadians, and to our allies, and it serves to ensure our combined readiness when responding to today’s evolving security threats.”
Known as Exercise Maple Flag since it began in 1978, the exercise allows air force personnel from different nations to develop their interoperability by simulating a United Nations air campaign against a highly-capable enemy. A full spectrum of capabilities will be exercised, including command and control, air-to-air and air-to-ground operations, air-to-air refuelling, airborne warning and control, air transport, rotary-wing tactical airlift, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. The ability of air forces to integrate with land forces will also be incorporated into the exercise.
“This exercise is key to assuring the operational readiness of the RCAF, encompassing modern combat, joint service within the Canadian Forces, and multinational coordination and cooperation,” said Major-General Alain Parent, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division and the operational commander of the RCAF. “We are solidifying our own lessons learned from recent operations overseas, as well as cementing interoperability and tactical-level insight with our allies.”
This year’s Maple Flag also includes Exercise Winged Warrior, thus incorporating additional training opportunities for non-fighter aircraft and land forces.
Nations participating in Maple Flag/Winged Warrior 2012 include Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the Republic of Singapore, the United States, and the United Kingdom, as well as NATO participation. Observer nations include Argentina, Chile, Columbia, India, Japan, Mexico, Oman, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, and Uruguay.
Canadian Forces participating units include air elements from 14 Wing Greenwood, N.S., 3 Wing Bagotville, Que., Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Valcartier, Que., 8 Wing Trenton, Ont., 17 Wing Winnipeg, Man., and 19 Wing Comox, B.C., as well as the 3rd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry out of Edmonton, Alta.
Exercise Maple Flag in various forms has been conducted since 1978, and has occurred annually since 1987, other than in 1991 due to Gulf War I, 1999 due to the Kosovo Conflict, and in 2011 due to operations over Libya. Exercise Winged Warrior began in 1981 as a live-fly, live-fire exercise and developed more recently into a multi-purpose synthetic exercise to achieve a state of high operational readiness for participants.
Department of National Defence, Canada