CF-18 Hornet

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is conducting a large-scale, international air combat exercise, code-named Maple Flag 46, with allied and partner air forces at Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) at 4 Wing Cold Lake in Alberta, Canada.

Scheduled to run until 21 June, the annual exercise involves the participation of 1,100 military personnel from Canada, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Singapore, Netherlands, the US and the UK, and over 30 aircraft.

For the first time, the four week-long drill will also be integrated into JointEx 2013, a Canadian Armed Forces exercise that changes how the military fight, develop and train the future force.

Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay said the exercise will make an "enormous contribution" to enhancing the interoperability between the RCAF and the armed forces of partner countries.

”This major exercise contributes to the high level of coordination and cooperation between Canada and her allies, and ensures our combined readiness to respond to the evolving security environment,” MacKay added.

Royal Canadian Air Force commander lieutenant-general Yvan Blondin said: ”It gives us the opportunity to train in a combined and joint setting, while implementing lessons we have learned from recent operations overseas, such as Afghanistan and Libya.”

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4 Wing commander colonel Patrice Laroche added: "The Cold Lake Air Weapons Range provides excellent airspace and modernised training facilities that will give our aircrews and those of our participating allies an outstanding and realistic training experience.”

Countries participating under the International Observer Program (IOP) include Chile, India, Oman, Peru, South Africa, South Korea and Ukraine.

Conducted in two phases since 1978, Exercise Maple Flag aims to augment survivability and enhance the performance of junior Canadian and allied aircrews by providing them with their first ten combat operations in a structured, academic setting.

Image: The RCAF’s CF-18 Hornet fighter during flight over the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range in Alberta, Canada. Photo: Courtesy of Cpl Jean-Francois Lauzé.

Defence Technology