Joint Warrior, a multinational exercise currently taking place off the coast of Scotland, incorporates all 3 of the UK armed services; the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. Over the course of 3 weeks it will engage more than 35 warships, 25 different types of aircraft, and a total of nearly 13,000 personnel from the various participating nations.
Last week, Mr Francois visited RAF Halton, which is acting as headquarters for the exercise, where he received a detailed update. While there the minister learned more about those participating, and the scope, complexities and massive scale of the exercise.
Mr Francois said:
Exercise Joint Warrior represents a valuable opportunity to demonstrate the vast range of capabilities available for contingency operations and provides excellent training to test the high readiness of our armed forces.
This exercise sees us working with many of our international allies and this year will be the largest live, tactically-focused exercise held in Europe.
The level of management and co-ordination required is formidable and I was extremely impressed by what I witnessed at Joint Warrior’s headquarters at RAF Halton.
Joint Warrior sees ships, submarines, aircraft and ground troops from the UK, United States, the Netherlands, France, Turkey and other Nato allies battling each other at sea, in the air and on land in an area which stretches from the Irish Sea, north to Cape Wrath and east to the Moray Firth.
The Royal Navy has 12 ships taking part in the exercise, ranging from amphibious vessels, destroyers and frigates to mine countermeasures vessels. The crews involved will use the exercise to prepare for their imminent deployments to the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Middle East.
There are also around 1,300 commandos from 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, including force elements from 24 Commando Engineer Regiment and 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, embedded across the ships.
The Royal Air Force is providing fast jet aircraft in the form of Hawks, Tornados and Typhoons, simulating enemy aircraft and missiles as well as providing conventional air warfare capability.
The British Army is represented on the exercise by members of 16 Air Assault Brigade. They are supported by rotary assets from all 3 services, with Apache, Chinook, Sea King, Lynx, Merlin and Puma helicopters providing critical attack support and reconnaissance capabilities.