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Exercise Co-Operative Bear 98

(Text extracted from official RAF press release)

Exercise Crest Exercise Co-operative Bear 98 was a major NATO Partnership for Peace (PfP) exercise, to be centered at RAF St Mawgan in Cornwall, south-west England, from 4-11 September 98.

At least eighteen nations were expected to take part, either with aircraft or observers, in an exercise designed to practise skills in the aerial delivery of humanitarian aid and casualty evacuation.

NATO nations worked with central and eastern European partners with widely differing levels of experience, sharing ideas and information in the field of humanitarian relief. The knowledge gained through this type of exercise greatly improves the interoperability of the units involved, so that they can work together more effectively when the need arises.

The Co-operative Bear series of exercises began in the UK on a small scale in 1995, the first major flying event being last year in Sweden. This year, following detailed planning, a three-day programme of flying by transport aircraft took place in south-west England and Wales from 8-10 September, including the dropping of supplies and personnel by parachute and the extraction of casualties.

The list of nations invited to take part was as follows: Azerbaijan (observers); Bulgaria (observers); Czech Republic (AN- 26 + medics); Estonia (observers); France (CASA 235 + medic); Latvia (L-410 + medic); Lithuania (AN-26 + medics); Moldova (observers); Netherlands (Fokker 60 + medics); Norway (C130 + medics); Poland (AN-26 + medics); Romania (C130 + paras); Slovakia (AN-26 + medics); Slovenia (observers); Sweden (C130 + medics) ; Ukraine (IL-76 + medics) ; United Kingdom (C130 + medics); Uzbekistan (observers). More than 300 additional personnel were based at St Mawgan, and other aircraft were to be seen throughout the exercise.

The flying phase of the exercise generally involved each participating aircraft flying one or two sorties each day as part of a pre-planned scenario. These included the extraction of simulated casualties from a field hospital to be situated at RAF St Athan in South Wales, the dropping of supplies onto drop zones at Keevil in Wiltshire or Old Park Barn on Bodmin Moor, or the use of the landing strip at Deptford Down on Salisbury Plain.

Aircraft flew at medium or low level (below 2000ft) along a number of pre-determined routes over Wales and south-west England. The routes had been planned to ensure as wide a spread of activity as practicable, so as to minimise disturbance to the public. Each route had an absolute maximum of five sorties flown along it on any one day.


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