The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is participating in a multi-national close air support training exercise, code-named Serpentex 2013, at the Solenzara Air Force Base in Corsica, France. Hosted by the French Air Force, the annual exercise aims to enhance coordination between intelligence, aircrew and joint terminal attack controllers (JTAC) of the Nato Allies’ air forces. Participating with 195 personnel, six CF-18 Hornets, one CP-140 Aurora, CC-130J Hercules and CC-150 Polaris aircraft, the RCAF successfully completed the first two missions, which included the dropping of training bombs and the firing of rounds on multiple targets during a close air support mission at Diane firing range in France.
The close air support training tested RCAF’s ability to integrate with JTAC from both the Canadian Army and other participating countries, who guided both Canadian and French fighter aircraft to specific targets. After conducting reconnaissance of the operation area, the fighters identified the target and conducted a strike, while the controllers assessed whether the mission was successful or not. Canadian senior national representative at Serpentex and CF-18 pilot major Aaron Macluskie said, ”This is a unique opportunity for both our CF-18 pilots and our Canadian [joint terminal attack controllers] to train with other nations, and to confirm our procedures for operating within a coalition.” RCAF’s CP-140 also conducted its first mission of the exercise, providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data to allied forces, which was used by controllers to identify targets and threats, or by the air support operations centre to develop pattern of life in any given area. Serpentex air task force commander lieutenant-colonel Luc Girouard said, ”With this full-scale expeditionary capability, the Royal Canadian Air Force will have greater versatility and flexibility to meet the challenges of conducting domestic and overseas deployments.” The exercise is scheduled to conclude on 06 December 2013.