Almost 4,000 personnel, 58 aircraft, 16 ships and three submarines have begun mass wargames in Scotland for Exercise Joint Warrior.
Equipment involved in the exercise includes the Royal Navy minehunter HMS Hurworth, HMS Albion and the Type 23 Frigate HMS Sutherland. The majority of personnel participating in the exercise are sailors or marines, but 635 air personnel and 319 soldiers are also involved.
International equipment includes the French FS Tonnerre and the German FGS Berlin replenishment ship.
The multi-national exercise will see troops from NATO allies joined by personnel from Japan and the United Arab Emirates for the next two weeks.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) said the exercise, directed from Clyde naval base, “will boost the defensive capabilities of the UK and its allies”.
The biannual exercise pulls together forces from the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force and their allied counterparts, allowing them to work on joint operations.
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UK Minister for the Armed Forces Mark Lancaster said: “As we look ahead to the December NATO Leaders’ meeting in London to mark the alliance’s 70th anniversary, Exercise Joint Warrior provides a timely demonstration of why it is the bedrock of our defence.
“A wide spectrum of allies and friends will come together, build understanding and sharpen our collective defence. We are stronger and safer together.”
One of the first scenarios tested in the exercise saw the Royal Navy having to defend their ships from mock ‘massed assaults by fast-moving speed boats’. The Royal Navy said the mock assault simulated “precisely the sort of attack ships fear – lots of attackers, confined and congested waters”.
Talking about the mock attack Royal Navy Lieutenant Commander Tom Knott said: “We really dialled up the complexity of this ‘beat-’em-up’ exercise – multiple fast-attack craft, the close proximity of land, our helicopter providing machine-gun support and a minehunter for us to protect – this is realistic and highly valuable training.”
The swarm attack is the first of many scenarios that will be tested over the next two weeks.
The exercise will also put the Anglo-French Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) to the test in the first of five joint exercises. The CJEF was formed in 2010 when the UK and French Governments signed the Lancaster House Treaties.
The CJEF is designed to provide short-notice force for the UK and France comprising of land, air and maritime components and over 10,000 people. The MOD said the CJEF would conduct its own Exercise Griffin Strike as a part of Joint Warrior.
The countries participating in Joint Warrior include Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey, the US, UK, Japan and the United Arab Emirates.