RCAF to participate for first time in multinational exercise in UK

A Royal Canadian Air Force CF-188 Hornet in flight.
Photo Credit: RCAF
Len Varley - Assistant Editor 5 Min Read
5 Min Read

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) is set to make its debut appearance at Exercise COBRA WARRIOR 23-2, a multinational live-fly exercise hosted by the Royal Air Force (RAF) at Waddington station in the United Kingdom.

Running from September 4 to 22, 2023, this event will see Canada join the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy and Australia in the exercise involving operational tactics in aerial maneuvers.

Taking Flight: RCAF Lineup


The RCAF’s involvement in Exercise COBRA WARRIOR 23-2 showcases the CF-188 Hornet fighter, supported by a CC-150T Polaris air-to-air refuelling aircraft – the military variant of the Airbus A310-300 aircraft.

The participation includes a squadron of seven CF-188 Hornets from the esteemed 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron, alongside a CC-150T Polaris aircraft from 437 Transport Squadron.

Accompanying these formidable machines are over 140 skilled RCAF personnel, each ready to contribute their expertise to this dynamic training event.

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Exercise COBRA WARRIOR involves a collaboration of Allied nations. Alongside Canada, other allies such as Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Italy will also participate in this multinational extravaganza.

The exercise creates a platform for the exchange of invaluable knowledge, enabling diverse air forces to forge stronger operational ties while collectively developing tactics that transcend borders.

Photo Credits: RCAF

Elevating Combat Proficiency


For the RCAF, Exercise COBRA WARRIOR 23-2 at RAF Waddington isn’t merely a demonstration of capability; it’s also an opportunity to elevate combat proficiency.

The exercise will provide a realistic simulation of high-intensity, large-scale air war-fighting operations, further enhancing the RCAF’s existing prowess in European airspace.

The training becomes all the more vital in a world where readiness to counter air threats is of paramount importance.

Insights from the Commanders


Lieutenant-General Eric Kenny, Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force, emphasizes the significance of exercises like COBRA WARRIOR.

He underscores that such endeavors aren’t solely about improving individual skills but fostering a sense of unity among allied and partner forces.

By practicing diverse tactical combat scenarios, participants prepare for real-world operations where collaborative cohesion can make all the difference.

Major-General Iain Huddleston, Commander of 1 Canadian Air Division, underscores the relevance of the current security landscape. He points out that Exercise COBRA WARRIOR is an instrumental stepping stone toward safeguarding North American airspace.

The exercise serves as a crucible for strengthening interoperability, building relationships, and developing leadership roles among participating Air Forces.

Key Highlights of Exercise COBRA WARRIOR 23-2


Interoperability Focus: The RCAF will engage in composite air operations in a contested, degraded, and operationally limited environment.

This focus underscores the need to function effectively under challenging conditions, enhancing the collaborative capabilities of all participants.

Dual Airbase Operations: The Royal Canadian Air Force’s aircraft will operate from both RAF Station Waddington and RAF Station Lossiemouth.

This dual operation setup underscores the adaptability of the RCAF personnel and their ability to operate seamlessly in various environments.

Command and Control Expertise: The exercise will see the involvement of four RCAF Air Battle Managers from RAF Boulmer.

Their pivotal role is to provide command and control capabilities that enable simulated air combat scenarios, further enhancing the complexity and realism of the training.

Unparalleled Magnitude: As the largest exercise organized by the Royal Air Force, COBRA WARRIOR offers a biannual opportunity for participants to engage in high-intensity large force tactical training.

This magnified event ensures that all involved forces are pushed to their limits, facilitating comprehensive skill development.

Integrating Partner Nations: Beyond honing individual skills, the exercise emphasizes the integration of different partner nation platforms. Crews learn to operate in tandem, enhancing interoperability and mission planning. Leadership roles are also assumed, fostering well-rounded expertise.

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