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
Click to enlarge

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
Click to enlarge

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