Nato's biggest military exercise, the UK-led Joint Warrior, has started off the west coast of Scotland, aimed at improving armed forces capabilities in responding to unexpected worldwide threats.
A range of missions at HM Naval Base Clyde will take place during the tri-service 11-day drill, with 27 separate naval units, 24 warships, 40 aircraft and several UK and allied land forces taking part
Participating nations include the UK, US, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, France, Norway, Denmark and Estonia.
Taking part in the exercise will be Royal Navy Type 23 frigates HMS Kent and HMS St Albans, Sandown-class minehunter HMS Penzance, Hunt-class minehunters HMS Cattistock and HMS Hurwort,h as well as HMS Bangor.
In addition, around 40 fixed-wing aircraft will be operating from Royal Air Force Leuchars including a detachment of Swedish Saab JAS-39 Gripen jets, RAF's Hawks, Tornado GR4s and a Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft, as well as eight maritime patrol aircraft from Canada and France.
Also participatibg will be the of Royal Netherlands Navy's De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate, HNLMS Evertsen, and US Navy's Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, USS Gettysburg (CG-64).
Land troops including 16 Air Assault Brigade, 3 Commando Brigade and 3 (UK) Division, as well as forces from the US, Sweden and Holland will perform military training in the region using defence training estate ranges and ranges, as well as Highland Agency and private land areas.
Participating units will conduct piracy, narcotics and insurgency operations, mine countermeasures and electronic warfare training, as well as tactical intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
Units will also conduct smuggling, piracy and terrorist activity in disputed territory exercises, in addition to GPS-denial operations.
Image: Royal Navy's HMS Penzance underway to Scotland, UK, to take part in Joint Warrior 2012. Photo: courtesy of UK Royal Navy.