RCAF wraps up participation in French exercise in Corsica

News Article / September 29, 2017

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From the Royal Canadian Air Force

The Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has completed its participation in an integrated land, air and naval force training exercise held from September 11 to 29, 2017, at the Ventiseri-Solenzara air base in Corsica, France. 

In this 10th iteration of Exercise SERPENTEX, the RCAF participated with members of 433 Tactical Fighter Squadron, located at 3 Wing Bagotville, Quebec, and three CF-188 Hornet fighter jets in close air support scenarios. A team of five members of the Canadian Army worked on the ground as joint terminal air controllers, responsible for calling in and guiding air support missions in combat situations.

“433 Tactical Fighter Squadron’s participation in this major international exercise demonstrates our expeditionary capabilities and provides valuable joint training, enhancing interoperability and combat effectiveness with our NATO allies,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Jared Penney, the commanding officer of 433 Squadron. “SERPENTEX provides an excellent forum for air-land integration at the tactical level using the unique terrain and airspace of Corsica.”

Several other NATO member nations also participated in the French-led exercise that brought together more than 1,000 personnel and 39 fighter aircraft from nine countries. Canada’s participation in this joint and combined exercise with international partner nations and allies enhances the Canadian Armed Forces’ ability to anticipate and act in support of combat and peace support operations.

This year, the focus of SERPENTEX was on training combat-ready joint terminal air controllers and aircrews. Participants conducted joint operations day and night at the tactical level, with close air support for both rotary-wing and fixed-wing aircraft and air-to-ground shooting controlled by joint terminal air controllers.

The training area in Corsica offers a first-class venue that is close to the operational environment of allied and coalition deployments. The exercise provided robust operational command and control including digitally-aided close air support capabilities using new satellite link-assisted technologies.

The SERPENTEX series started in Corsica in 2008, when France was joined by Belgium and the United States to conduct joint terminal air controllers training with allied aircraft. Successively, more and more allies contributed to the training, underlining the high value of the professional nature of the event.

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