Hebrides involved in largest military exercise in Europe

Royal Navy vessel HMS St Albans will join Exercise Joint Warrior around the waters of the Outer Hebrides next week.
Royal Navy vessel HMS St Albans will join Exercise Joint Warrior around the waters of the Outer Hebrides next week.

THE waters and skies around the Hebrides will help host the largest tactically focused military exercise in Europe from October 1st to 12th when Exercise Joint Warrior begins.

The tri-service, multi-national exercise, which is held twice a year, will see participation from 27 separate naval units, 40 aircraft and a variety of UK and allied land forces.

Taking part in the exercise will be ships from the UK, US, Belgium, Germany, Holland, France, Norway, Denmark and Estonia, many operating in Hebridean waters.

And the Task Group commanders will be the Netherlands Commander Maritime Forces, deployed on board HNLMS Eversten, and the US Commander Destroyer Squadron 26 on board the USS Gettysburg.

Royal Navy ships involved include Type 23 Frigates, HMS Kent and HMS St Albans, and mine hunters Her Majesty’s Ships Penzance, Cattistock, Hurworth and Bangor.

Meanwhile, RAF Lossiemouth will see a detachment of Swedish JAS-39 Gripen Jets, US Hawks, Tornado GR4s and Typhoon aircraft, and RAF Leuchars will be operating eight Maritime Patrol aircraft from Canada and France.

There will also be limited night and weekend flying from these bases during the exercise.

Land troops will conduct military training at ranges across Scotland, using Defence Training Estate range areas, commercial ranges, Highland Agency and private land areas.

This will enable training for 16 Air Assault Brigade, three Commando Brigade and three UK Division, as well as troops from the US, Sweden and Holland.

Exercise Joint Warrior allows the Armed Forces to practice the wide variety of skills needed by today’s military.

Skills such as counter piracy, narcotics and insurgency operations, mine countermeasures, electronic warfare training and tactical intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance are all included.

The scenario for the exercise involves multiple sovereign nations, disputed territory, smuggling, piracy and terrorist activity.

As it plays out the scenario will develop from a period of military and political tension to simulate war fighting and state hostilities – all providing realistic training for the participants.