Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Jacques Vincent - Translation: Marc Arys
© sbap 2019
  

Previously known as the Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor course, the exercise Cobra Warrior was focused on RAF Waddington, Lincolnshire, in 2019. This year's exercise saw the Israeli Air Force (IAF) take part for the first time. The Royal Air Force (RAF) and Israel Air Force (IAF) have developed an extensive working relationship during the last months.
Held between 1st and 20th of September, Cobra Warrior is the RAF's capstone tactical training exercise, designed to conclude the training of the Qualified Weapons Instructor (QWI), Qualified Multi-engine Tactics Instructor (QMETI), QWI Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (QWI-ISR) and Qualified Space Instructor (QSI) students.
Developing tactical skills and supporting elements through Composite Air Operations (COMAO), Cobra Warrior provides valuable training to the participating forces, developing and practicing tactics, techniques and procedures by way of complex scenarios against peer adversary.

The exercise Cobra Warrior is a large-force employment live exercise (LIVEX) with more than 50 participating aircraft on certain missions. The missions are planned as COMAO (Composite Air Operations) with a large number of aircraft performing different roles within the overall frame of the exercise to achieve a number of tactical objectives. Not only fighter aircraft were involved, there was also an ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) aircraft, air-to-air refueling aircraft and the involvement simulation of UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) aircraft such as the Reaper.
RAF Waddington is the RAF's Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) main operating base and as such provides for airborne intelligence aircraft. Also based at Waddington is the Air Warfare Centre, which provides timely and contextual integrated mission support to front-line commanders.
The RAF's ISTAR fleet, Sentry AEW.1, Sentinel R.1, Shadow R.1 and RC-135W Rivet Joint, were combined with Typhoon FGR.4s from RAF Coningsby and RAF Lossiemouth. All of them were supported by Voyager KC.2/KC.3 tanker aircraft operating from their home base at RAF Brize Norton. Number of missions also included battlefield helicopters from the Royal Air Force and the British Army Corps.
The reasoning behind Cobra Warrior is to develop the skills of the tactical leaders and frontline crews, that include pilots and aircrew, but also the support personnel like intelligence commanders and command and control specialists who were involved in the training of the whole pyramid of the exercise.
 
 Israeli Air Force, German Air Force, Royal Air Force & Italian Air Force above United Kingdom
(Courtesy IAF A. Agronov via Instagram©)
  
The participants of the 2019 edition of Cobra Warrior exercise came from the RAF, Royal Navy and the British Army; as well as foreign participants like Germany, Italy and Israel.
Gp Capt Barrett (Cobra Warrior Exercise Director) explained that the foreign participants were involved throughout the exercise, so it was not just a presence of fast-jets from different countries, but they were also involved in the intelligence briefing functions, working up the command and control plans.
The nations also brought their instructor staff with them, providing oversight and instruction, and ensuring they got what they needed out of the exercise. Illustrating the true international nature of the exercise, Capitán Fernando Rojas of the Spanish Air Force, on exchange with the German Air Force TLG74 wing, participated as an instructor and also flew in the exercise, simulating adversary aircraft.
The "nerve center" for the 2019 exercise was located at RAF Waddington, where all the mission planning's were prepared and where all the briefings and debriefings went on.
But many other RAF stations from across the U.K. were also involved in this major exercise.
The flying exercise as such took place over the North Sea off the coast of Newcastle and most of the jet activities were held at medium-level, with the helicopters working at low-level over Northumbria.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the Cobra Warrior 2019 edition was the attendance of the Israeli Air Force with no less than seven F-15C/D Eagles "Baz" (Falcon) from 106 Squadron based at Tel Nof airbase, accompanied by 2 Boeing KC-707 'Re'em' tankers from 120 Squadron providing an air-to-air refueling capability in the final week.
As per Brig Gen Ain-Dar (Israeli Air Force - Head of Training and Doctrine Directorate) the participation in an international exercise, particularly in the U.K., is very important, as it gives the IAF personnel the opportunity to fly and work in another environment and in another language. The weather is also quite different in Israel.
Altogether, this was a very good experience to bring the pilots and support personnel to a combat ready status in other environments. It is also important to underline that learning from the other participants is a major asset.

During those eight months, Cobra Warrior 2019 saw the co-operation between the United Kingdom and Israel extended. In recent years the two countries had a much closer relationship, for example the RAF and IAF carried out a joint exercise with the US Air Force over the eastern Mediterranean, unique in that, it involved the new Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning fighter aircraft from all three air forces. Following on from that, an RAF Typhoon fighter landed at Ramat David airbase in Israel as part of RAF operations in the region. Having attended the Blue Flag exercise in Israel in 2017 as observers, the RAF is expected to attend in a similar role in this year's event planned in November.
With the German and Italian Air Forces further enhancing their participation in the exercise, both using it as part of their QWI courses, Cobra Warrior is expected to expand even more in 2020.
In addition to the participants already mentioned, the USAF should be involved with a B-52 bomber operating from RAF Fairford together with F-15's from the 48th Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath.
Let's hope that international participation for Cobra Warrior 2020 could well increase further to make the exercise even broader.

 
Waddington Based Aircraft
German Air Force 

Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 73 (Laage)
30+47 Eurofighter 2000
30+50 Eurofighter 2000
30+51 Eurofighter 2000
30+56 Eurofighter 2000
30+64 Eurofighter 2000
30+65 Eurofighter 2000
30+73 Eurofighter 2000
30+74 Eurofighter 2000
30+88 Eurofighter 2000
31+20 Eurofighter 2000
Italian Air Force 

4° Stormo (Grosseto)
4-55 Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon

36° Stormo (Gioia del Colle)
36-55 Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon
36-56 Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon

37° Stormo (Trapani)
37-12 Eurofighter F-2000A Typhoon


Israeli Air Force 

106 Squadron (Tel Nof)
583 Mc Donnell - Douglas F-15C-36-MC Baz
706 Mc Donnell - Douglas F-15D-50-MC Baz
715 Mc Donnell - Douglas F-15D-50-MC Baz
733 Mc Donnell - Douglas F-15D-50-MC Baz
810 Mc Donnell - Douglas F-15C-27-MC Baz
818 Mc Donnell - Douglas F-15C-28-MC Baz (2 Syrian Kills)
980 Mc Donnell - Douglas F-15D-27-MC Baz

120 Squadron (Nevatim)
264 Boeing KC707 Re'em
272 Boeing KC707 Re'em
 
September 18th missions
 
(Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
Note that the 272 have no distinctive roundels
(Jacques Vincent©)
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 Bombardier Sentinel-R.1 from 5(AC) Squadron
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(Jacques Vincent©) Beechcraft Shadow R.Mk 1+ from 14 Squadron
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Refuling by a German Air Force A310 MRTT
(Courtesy RAF / Crown©)
RAF Typhhon went from Coningsby and Lossiemouth
(Courtesy RAF / Crown©)
Israel detachment came with their own tankers
(Courtesy IAF A. Agronov via Instagram©)
Break and back to base
(Courtesy IAF A. Agronov via Instagram©)
(Jacques Vincent©) (Jacques Vincent©)
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Airbus Voyager KC2 from 10/101 Squadron back to Brize Norton
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The 264 had well the Israeli Air Force roundel visible
(Jacques Vincent©)
Boeing Sentry AEW1 from 8 Squadron was closing the "Cobra Warrior" mission of the day
(Jacques Vincent©)
 

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