This marks our team reaching Full Operational Capability and means Inzpire are now responsible for generating the scenarios and assisting in the delivery of all future iterations of COBRA WARRIOR and the more frequent RISING PANTHER series of exercises until 2020.
As tweeted by 27 Sqn, a Chinook at Carlisle Airport poised to take part in COBRA WARRIOR
What is Ex COBRA WARRIOR?
Formerly named Ex CQWI (Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor), Ex COBRA WARRIOR is still focussed on providing the combined assessment phase for the RAF’s budding Weapons Instructors. But last year’s name change recognised that this exercise offers so much more than just QWI training; it is the RAF’s largest collective training exercise and every Force Element has a part to play. Providing training for all those elements is the real challenge for Inzpire’s White Force team and things are further complicated by the participants being distributed at bases all over the UK.
Training For Everyone – Exercising the Full Chain.
Inzpire’s team understand the importance of training every exercise participant, no matter their role, in order to exercise the full chain. ISTAR platforms like UK Rivet Joint and Sentinel R1 are amazingly capable assets and require stimulation of the entire crew during training. This means our team has to meticulously plan hostile convoy routes and position our surface-to-air threat systems, provided by RAF Spadeadam, to ensure they will be ‘seen’ or ‘heard’ by those sensor platforms during the training mission. Whilst the real enemy might not be so kind, Inzpire’s team must ensure the training provides the best possible value for money. Threat systems must also controlled precisely in order to meet what the trainees expect the ‘enemy’ tactics will be, and this is all linked into our complex and realistic Intelligence scenario which wrapped around the exercise. Once found, those potential targets are passed to C2 elements like E-3D Sentry and the Command and Reporting Centre (CRC) at RAF Scampton. Here the operators will have to satisfy Rules of Engagement, keep their higher command in the picture (role-played by our team) and pass those targets on to strike assets if deemed necessary. All these interactions are courses of events pre-planned by our White Force team and guarantee the delivery of those original training objectives.
It’s Not All About Targets.
Inzpire’s team delivered a scenario which allowed participants to practise the vast majority of their potential combat roles. Some were simple defensive missions, with Typhoons defending the ISTAR, C2 and Air-to-Air platforms (the ‘Heavies’) from realistic attacking ‘Red Air’. One of our team’s key roles during the delivery of these exercises is that of Red Chairman. He controls the tactics the opposing air force will bring to a given situation to guarantee the training is hitting the right level of complexity. Another mission involved rescuing downed aircrew (requiring one of our RAF colleagues to be out in the Northumbrian hills for a day) using a mixed force of RAF Chinooks, Army Lynx and Apache Helicopters. On other missions the fast jets and ISTAR platforms were tasked with providing Close Air Support to ground troops and one scenario even simulated what might happen if a member of an opposing force wished to defect to our side.
International Training Audience.
It wasn’t just the RAF playing in this exercise. For the first time, Typhoon pilots of the Royal Saudi Air Force, being trained as QWIs by 29(R) Sqn, played a major role in the exercise. And the German Air Force (GAF), who are running their first Eurofighter Weapons School this year, brought their jets and trainee Weapons Instructors across for the 3-week Exercise to receive our training. Our header image shows a Luftwaffe Eurofighter taxying out to the runway at RAF Coningsby to train alongside RAF Typhoons. The GAF also brought two Fighter Controllers to experience providing C2 within a multinational coalition environment and even provided a Voyager Tanker aircraft to help keep the fuel-hungry fast jets in the sky. It was great to watch fighter pilots from the RAF and Luftwaffe integrating so perfectly and, when it was their turn to provide planning day rations, we were particularly thankful to the GAF for their excellent selection of doughnuts!
Upon completion of COBRA WARRIOR, one element of the Exercise – the German Air Force Weapons Instructor Course – presented the Inzpire White Force team with a plaque commemorating their excellent training delivery.
Plan, Brief, Execute, Debrief.
This is a common cycle for military aviators and one in which the Inzpire team members have key roles to play. All our exercises run on a 2-day plan/execute cycle. During the tasking brief, our experts deliver the Intelligence briefing and introduce the tasks for the next day’s mission. That leads to the mission plan, where we provide intelligence support and mentor planning teams while our Red Chairman is busy in the background what the ‘Red’ reaction might be to the friendly ‘Blue’ plan. During the Execute our team orchestrate and deliver the exercise, feeding in injects to keep the training on track whilst closely controlling Red Land and Air forces. The only place our team can currently get the required levels of situational awareness and communications is the CRC at RAF Scampton. They kindly provide our WF team with radar display consoles, not only to monitor the training but also for the Exercise Director to do his job of keeping a close eye in the safety aspects of the mission. After each mission, we help collate the key events and start to consider where the mission could have gone better or, conversely where it went really well, so these points can be captured and subsequently raised in the debrief.
The Dust Settles.
So, with 8 Missions completed successfully and all participants safely home surely that’s job done? Not yet, we are now in the process of completing our post exercise reporting process to capture all the lessons gleaned from the exercise. We then collate the lessons into a report, highlighting areas where more training is required or where capability gaps might exist in UK equipment or systems. And even before that is finished, some of the team members are already preparing for the next event in our busy training calendar – this time Ex RISING PANTHER using the Air Battlespace Training Centre’s synthetic training environment.