From the 24th of November to the 18th December 2020, a training exercise was carried out in Yorkshire with 40 pilots, 70 ground crew and 10 F/A-18 aircraft from the Swiss Air Force.
The exercise, dubbed ‘Yorknite’, was to train Swiss pilots on night flying exercises which are now crucially important for Switzerland’s air policing missions as they move to 24 hours a day, you can read more about the move at the link below.
According to a statement from the Swiss military,
“The Swiss pilots and their British colleagues were able to practise flight manoeuvres over the North Sea during darkness, without night flight restrictions. For a fighter jet to take off, however, it needs not only a pilot but also trained ground personnel and skilled technicians; they ensure the aircraft are permanently ready for deployment. The Swiss team learnt from their British colleagues what matters most when flying at night.
Joint training exercises are based on an agreement between the United Kingdom and Switzerland. The Swiss Air Force would like to thank its British counterpart, the RAF, for this invaluable cooperation.”
According to Lieutenant Colonel Aldo Wicki of the Swiss Air Force:
“The four-week Yorknite exercise in North England is extremely important for the Swiss Air Force because it helps us to achieve international standards for modern aerial warfare at night. RAF Leeming provides excellent conditions for conducting basic night flying training and practising tactical night manoeuvres more effectively than in Switzerland. During the four-week exercise, the F/A-18 crews complete around 50% of their total annual night flying training. Thanks to this excellent training opportunity abroad, the Swiss Air Force is fully prepared with two armed F/A fighter jets for QRA air policing missions to protect Swiss airspace 24/7 from 2021.
Switzerland is a small country and does not have the resources necessary for achieving international standards in modern aerial warfare on its own; we need to cooperate with competent partners who have the operational experience. It is particularly important for the Swiss Air Force to enhance and develop its skills and expertise with respect to interoperability and cooperation with other European partners, and to use joint exercises with other experienced air forces to review its own training programme. This what we call ‘benchmarking’, i.e. regularly testing our own knowledge and ability at international level with experienced partners and making improvements where necessary. Exercises like these also boost the credibility of the Swiss Air Force and the country’s defence capabilities.”
You can read more from the Swiss Air Force here.