words and pictures by Wayne Bennett
For almost three weeks in September, Coningsby in Lincolnshire, home to the RAF’s premier fighter base in England, hosted the largest element of forces taking part in this years Cobra Warrior exercise as Typhoons from the RAF were joined by EF-2000’s (the German name for the Typhoon) and Tornadoes of the Luftwaffe, while a trio of Italian Typhoons were based at RAF Waddington just up the road
… so what is Cobra Warrior anyway?
Formerly named Exercise CQWI (Combined Qualified Weapons Instructor), Cobra Warrior is focussed on providing the combined assessment phase for the RAF’s budding Weapons Instructors, although 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. In recent years this exercise has expanded to include the forces of other nations, with Saudi Arabia taking part in 2015, while Germany first participated the following year.
Participants are distributed at bases all over the UK and they get to practise the vast majority of their potential combat roles. Some are simple defensive missions, with Typhoons defending the ISTAR, C2 and Air-to-Air platforms (the ‘Heavies’) from realistic attacking ‘Red Air’. These heavy platforms included the RAF’s Airseeker, Sentry and Sentinel aircraft from Waddington as well as Transall C160’s and an Airbus A310 of the luftwaffe, with engagements taking place over the east coast and North Sea.
The exercise was due to finish on the 29th september, but the majority of aircraft returned to germany the day before due to the stormy weather.