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Exercise 'Crown Condor'

Scottish game
Swedish slant

Roger Cook/Pynelea Photo Bureau reports from RAF Fairford on Exercise 'Crown Condor', part of the UK-wide Exercise 'Joint Warrior' (JW 082) carried out between 6-16 October. Pictures by the author and Bob Franklin

Exercise 'Joint Warrior' is a UK-wide, two-week tri-service exercise conducted in the Spring and the Autumn of each year; it is assessed that it is the largest exercise in Europe. The exercise was planned and executed by the Joint Tactical Exercise planning Staff (JTEPS) based at Northwood HQ, London. JTEPS' aim is to provide coordinated training for all three UK Armed Services and also forces from allied nations - this Exercise included participants from the UK and eight foreign nations, including multiple Forward Air Controllers (FACs), six companies of Infantry, twenty-nine surface and four sub-surface maritime units and sixty aircraft, flying at a daily rate of approximately a hundred sorties a day.

JW 082 took place across the whole of the UK utilising a wide variety of battlespace including UK live ranges and Managed Danger Areas (MDAs). The exercise scenario involved three sovereign nations, disputed territory and a state sponsored terrorist movement. Commencing with a period of Force Integration Training (FIT), the exercise developed over the two weeks, through a period of tension into simulated warfighting and open hostilities.

Exercise 'Crown Condor' marked the culmination of the training of 140 Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW), which will stand up at RAF Lossiemouth as the 'Fast Jet EAW' on 1 January 2009. In preparation for this, 2008 has been spent conducting training exercises and planning - the EAW has carried out 'table-top' exercises aimed at Command level personnel and has conducted Expeditionary Level Training at RAF Kinloss. 140 EAW is mainly made up of personnel from Lossiemouth with other personnel sourced from the rest of the Air Force, identified as 'Tier 2' personnel.

The exercise tested the roles of every person, from the pre-deployment planning and 'equipment gathering' through to the setting up of the Deployed Operating Base (DOB) at RAF Fairford. 140 EAW was also tested on its ability to break camp and repatriate back to Lossiemouth. The deployment was supported by a number of external organisations including the Tactical Communications Wing, the Mobile Catering Unit and 2 Force Protection Wing (RAF Regiment) from RAF Leeming.

140 EAW set up the DOB on the disused side of RAF Fairford towards Kempsford to support about six hundred personnel and allow operation of eight Tornado GR4s from 12(B) Squadron and seven Saab JAS39 Gripens from 171 Squadron, Swedish Air Force, based at Ronneby. 12(B) Squadron, also based at Lossiemouth, benefited from the experience of operating from an austere DOB before their imminent deployment on Operation 'Herrick' in Afghanistan and 171 Squadron experienced coalition operations from the DOB.

The Expeditionary Air Wing (EAW) concept has its origins in the Second World War when EAWs were established so that the Royal Air Force could project Allied Air Power all around the world. This expeditionary nature of our forces changed during the Cold War era, signalling a move to largely static forces with a home defence posture adopted by western military forces. However, the end of the Cold War has seen a dramatic shift of focus back to expeditionary operations.

As a result of the need to provide a more agile, adaptable and scaleable RAF to meet the demands of modern expeditionary operations, the EAW concept was re-introduced in April 2006. The renewal of the concept is to enable the RAF to provide more interoperable, capable and effective projection of modern expeditionary air power. Most future overseas deployments of the RAF will probably be based upon the deployment of an EAW.

EAWs were formed at nine main operating bases: RAF Waddington, RAF Lyneham, RAF Coningsby, RAF Cottesmore, RAF Leuchars, RAF Marham, RAF Kinloss and RAF Lossiemouth.

With thanks to Sqn Ldr Andy Byrne, Flg Off Lottie Gunn and Sqn Ldr Charlie Petersen for their help.


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