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Exercise Cobra Warrior dates set for next RAF-led training exercise

The dates have been set for the next iteration of Exercise Cobra Warrior, the international training programme held in Lincolnshire. The second exercise in 2023 will be held at RAF Waddington from Monday, September 4, until Friday, September 22.

Pilots and air crews from the United States Air Force (USAF), the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Italian Air Force are among those taking part. They will be joining personnel from the Netherlands, Norway and the hosts, the RAF.

Lieutenant-General Eric Kenny, commander of first-time participant the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF), said: “Exercises like Cobra Warrior provide highly valuable training not only for our members but also those of our allies and partners, to practice working together in a wide variety of tactical combat scenarios that they could face on real-world operations.”

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Major-General Iain Huddleston, who commands 1 Canadian Air Division, said it will ‘strengthen interoperability’ between participants and build on pre-existing ‘strong relationships’. The Canadians will bring in seven CF-188 Hornets, one CC-150T Polaris and more than 140 personnel.

An Italian Typhoon takes part in Exercise Cobra Warrior, RAF Waddington
An Italian Typhoon taking part in Cobra Warrior in 2022.

The USAF has committed aircrews and an F-16CJ Fighting Falcon aircraft to the exercise. Staff at RAF Waddington has warned that the next five weeks might get loud as the partner nations practice a series of challenging air combat missions.

Traffic lights will be set up on the A15 to accommodate for the increased rate of sorties, with a spokesperson remarking: “With any luck, you may get treated to a free flypast whilst waiting.” No parking zones have also been set up along the A15, marked out by cones.

Exercise Cobra Warrior 2023-1 was held between Monday, March 6, and Friday, March 26. It brought together pilots from India, Saudi Arabia, Finland, Belgium and the UK.

Snowfall saw the planes grounded on some days, though they are expected to be in the air in some capacity most days. Thousands gathered from all over the UK to catch a glimpse of rare foreign fighter jets and refuelling planes, with some likening it to a ‘high-tech version of trainspotting’.

As enthusiasts are expected to once again congregate along the grassy verges of the A15, a spokesperson for RAF Waddington issued a brief safety warning. They said: “We understand that this is a very exciting period for us and other aircraft enthusiasts but please be safe whilst capturing your brilliant snaps.

“Some of the aircraft that are participating in our exercise have unusual and low approaches so we advise that you stand well clear of the undershoot.”

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