Aircrews from Canada’s allies and partners will fly alongside the Royal Canadian Air Force in Exercise Maple Flag 46. This large-scale, international air combat exercise is hosted annually at 4 Wing Cold Lake, Alta., and is taking place this year from May 27 to June 21.
“Exercises such as Maple Flag make an enormous contribution to improving the interoperability between the Royal Canadian Air Force and the armed forces of partner nations,” said Defence Minister Peter MacKay. “This major exercise contributes to the high level of coordination and cooperation between Canada and her allies, and ensures our combined readiness to respond to the evolving security environment.”
As one of the largest and most advanced air combat exercises in the world, Maple Flag is just one of the ways the RCAF contributes to increasing military interoperability between Canada and her allies and partners. It was developed to enhance the survivability and improve the performance of junior Canadian and allied aircrews by providing them with their first 10 combat missions in a structured, academic setting.
For the first time, Maple Flag will also be integrated into JointEx 13, a Canadian Armed Forces exercise that changes how we fight, develop, and train the future force.
“This exercise is essential to maintaining the operational readiness of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and augments our ability to implement joint capabilities within the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Lt. Gen. Yvan Blondin, commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force. “It gives us the opportunity to train in a combined and joint setting, while implementing lessons we have learned from recent operations overseas, such as Afghanistan and Libya.”
Canadian Armed Forces units from across Canada will take part in this year’s Maple Flag, along with forces from Belgium, Colombia, Germany, the Netherlands, the Republic of Singapore, the U.S., and the U.K. In addition, nations participating in an observer capacity include Chile, India, Oman, Peru, South Africa, South Korea, and Ukraine.
During exercise Maple Flag 46, participants will use the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range. The range covers more than 4.2 million acres, and is the only tactical bombing range in Canada. The vast, unrestricted airspace, with no civilian air traffic and more than 640 targets, makes it an attractive training area for allied air forces.
“Exercise Maple Flag 46 provides a valuable training opportunity for us and our training partners,” said Col. Patrice Laroche, commander of 4 Wing. “The Cold Lake Air Weapons Range provides excellent airspace and modernized training facilities that will give our aircrews and those of our participating allies an outstanding and realistic training experience.”
During the four-week exercise, 4 Wing, the city of Cold Lake, and surrounding communities will see an influx of more than 1,100 Canadian and international military personnel, and more than 30 additional aircraft. On Saturday, June 15, 4 Wing will host the Maple Flag open house, giving the local community and public a chance to meet members of the participating nations, and observe the various aircraft involved in the exercise.
From an RCAF news release