Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Exercise Maple Flag 49 wraps up

For the Lakeland Regional.

The Royal Canadian Air Force wrapped up its international training mission Exercise Maple Flag 49 - a month-long gathering of air forces from Canada and several of its allies in #ColdLake, Alberta. The exercise is designed to prepare pilots and air crews for the realities of modern warfare and to ensure that forces for all nations involved are prepared in case they are needed.
Eric Bowling

A major military exercise conducted at CFB Cold Lake has wrapped up after 24 days of operations.

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) concluded Exercise Maple Flag 49 at 4 Wing on June 24. The multi-national military training mission, which began on May 30, is a part of the Canadian Armed Forces' (CAF) efforts to prepare both Canadian and international forces for future potential conflicts.

“The Royal Canadian Air Force is responsible to be prepared to deploy at any time,” said Air Force Tactical Training Centre Commanding Officer Maj. Chris “Chester” Horch. “No matter what the current state of world events it's our job to be prepared for and train for difficult scenarios like this.”
 A CF-18 passes over Cold Lake Air Weapons Range during a training mission June 23.
Eric Bowling

Over 1,300 CAF personnel and more than 400 allied personnel participated in the exercise. The training mission was held over two periods, from May 30 to June 10 and then from June 13 to 24. Two waves of training were held each day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.

Horch explained, “The advantage of having this exercise in Cold Lake in June is that the days are very long here, so it gives our participants a chance to train after the last wave of the day.”

To be prepared for modern aerial combat, the airmen and women practiced a number of techniques, including air-to-air combat, air-to-surface combat, air-to-air refueling, surveillance and reconnaissance, and electronic warfare.

A french pilot looks directly at the camera after a refuelling mission in the skies above Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.
Eric Bowling

The scenario presented to the soldiers was a conflict between two fictitious nations. The nation of Lemgo had declared independence from the larger nation of Stromia. Stromia considered Lemgo a renegade province and had begun to mass troops and aircraft near the fledging Lemgoese nation earlier in the year. After Stromian forces entered Lemgoese territory, a coalition of nations lead by Canada deployed into Lemgo to protect their independence.

The part of the Stromian Air Force was played by pilots from Discovery Air Defence Services, aka “Top Aces.”

The scenario was developed in consultation between participating nations.

A CF-18 stops by a C-130 Hercules to get a refuelling in the skies over Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.
Eric Bowling

“It's basically the same scenario we've been running since the generation of Maple Flag. It's a state versus state scenario against an ever-evolving threat with very capable platforms and tactics. It provides the aircrew an opportunity to train in a non-permissive environment where they need to fight to gain air superiority so they can support troops on the ground,” noted Horch.

Training was conducted chiefly inside the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR). At 1.17 million hectares in size, CLAWR hosts over 640 potential targets for combat training, including military airfields, surface-to-air threats and military structures. As no live ammunition was used during the scenario, kills were tracked via precision lasers and GPS guided systems. However, pilots were able to train with live munitions at air-to-air and air-to-ground ranges that operated concurrently with the scenario.

Soldiers from a number of NATO nations participated in the fictitious conflict, including the Royal Air Force of Britain, the French Air Force, the German Army, the Belgian Army, and four separate wings of the United States military.

A French fighter pulls into the landing pad.
Eric Bowling

“They are what make the exercise, to be honest. Without our foreign participants, it doesn't really give the exercise the benefit we want it to have,” explained Horch. “The key here is not just for Canada to train its own tactics, but for Canada to train alongside coalition members so that when we see them in potential future conflicts we have an idea how to integrate together and can do so effectively from day one of conflict.”

In addition, 10 nations sent personnel as part of the International Observer Program during the second period of the exercise, including Australia, Chile, India, Israel, the Philippines, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden and Saudi Arabia.

A french fighter fires off his afterburners in an early morning flight.
Eric Bowling

Maple Flag is the Canadian equivalent of the United States Air Force's Exercise Red Flag, which was started after the Vietnam War.

The need for regular tactical war simulations was determined after military planners noticed that aircrews with 10 or less combat missions were far more likely to go down in battle, and aircrews that survived more than 10 battles had a far greater chance of making their way back home to their families.

No comments:

Post a Comment