The largest military exercise to be run by the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom for over a decade has started.

The RAF say in a news release that Exercise Crimson Warrior will see RAF, Royal Navy, United States Marine Corps and United States Air Force fast jets, multi-engine aircraft and helicopters operating from a number of RAF stations across the country.

“At its peak Crimson Warrior will see over 70 aircraft conducting high intensity tactical training together over the North Sea and North East of England. The exercise is a development of the regular Cobra Warrior exercises, widely regarded as the most challenging training for aircrew and the final step for those seeking to qualify as Qualified Weapons Instructors (QWI), Qualified Multi-engine Tactics Instructors, QWI Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and Qualified Space Instructors Course.”

The RAF also say that the expanded Crimson Warrior includes land based training scenarios for the Lightning stealth fighters and helicopters that will form the Carrier Strike Group Air Wing for next year’s operational deployment of the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

In addition, the RAF advise that the exercise will develop and test the tactical leadership skills of aircrew and supporting personnel within highly complex training scenarios.

“The aim is to develop their abilities to devise, plan and practice tactics and procedures in a realistic environment against a capable simulated adversary.”

Group Captain Rob Barrett, the Exercise Director, was quoted as saying:

“Exercise Crimson Warrior is the largest and most complicated flying exercise we have held for many years and it is a vital part of the preparation for HMS Queen Elizabeth’s first operational deployment.

The Exercise will challenge participants from both the UK and the USA’s air forces in the full range of Air and Space power roles, and it has been just as much of a challenge to organise and run, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I am confident that the precautions we have taken have reduced the risks to participants and the public as much as practicable.”

The exercise began on the 19th October and will run until 5th November 2020 and is being controlled by specialist directing staff from 92 Squadron at RAF Waddington.

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Supportive Bloke

You do sense the tempo of training is going up a gear.

maybe also so the RAF dint get eclipsed, PRwise, by the RN CSBG?

I hope we have started to wake up to the very real threats that leaving vacuums for China and Russia to fill has been a terrible military and geopolitical mistake. Belt and Road has the potential to be a nightmare.


or the cynic in me says budget is being spent before it is cut…

Robert Blay

These exercises are planned month’s in advance, often 18 month’s or more The RAF don’t suddenly plan a large scale exercise just to use up some cash .


I read (on STRN I think) that HMSQNLZ is needed back in port to get her final fit of gear prior to sailing in the new year. The list includes her final CIWS (including 3 DS30s, which I didn’t realise she was getting!) and some specialist gear for the USMC. My guess is that these need to be fitted and function tested before she can be cleared for IOC at the end of this year, so she couldn’t hang around for this exercise as well as Joint Warrior.

Supportive Bloke

Good news on the DS30’s gives another layer to CIWS quite cheap too but effective.

Wonder if they will have the Martlet add ons?

Ian M.

Who’s got the spaceships for the “Qualified Space Instructors “?

Daniele Mandelli

The US. Allegedly.


Afternoon all. I would very much like to see a variation of this but without the reliance of satellites.
How effective is this force if far away in another theatre where satellites are being shot down/disabled etc.
Be good to have other assets to fall back on without satellite overwatch, GPS and communication.
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