RAF Leeming became
a hive of activity from the beginning of October with the arrival of two
Swedish Armed Forces UH60 Blackhawks for there deployment for Helicopter
Electronic Weapons Training the helicopters were based at Leeming and at
least one would fly each day to Spadeadam spending all day on the range
before RTB to Leeming of an evening.
Five days later
Leeming welcomed the arrival of 13 JAS39
Gripens of 2 Sqn of F17 based at Ronneby & 1 Sqn of F21 based at
Lulea. The Gripens were here to take part in exercises. The first being
the UK lead NATO JW16-2 and although Sweden isn't a member of the NATO
organisation they do take part in a number of NATO exercises on land air
& sea. The other exercise running in parallel was Noble Arrow deigned to
provide the UK with a Joint Force Air Component and in taking part gain
certification as the air component for the NATO Response Force in 2017
with there performance being monitored by NATO command.
As part of their
obligation to JW the Gripens performed in a variety of roles as
aggressors (RED) and defending (BLUE), with taskings from Air Defence,
reconnoitre / surveillance and ground attack, this taken place at Cape
Wrath and Donner Nook.
The Swedish crews
expressed pleasure at operating out of RAF Leeming as operating in UK
airspace is quite different to Sweden, so flying within international
airspace offered the younger pilots quite a challenge, as many hadnít
flown abroad before. Also being so close to the execise areas has meant
the can spend more time on task rather than in transit. They have been
captivated by the landscape of the UK conducting a number of low level
sorties predominantly in LFA17.
RAF Leemings role within the both exercises was to
plan real time activities associated with the Swedish visit, making
notes on the similarities and differences in the way they approach their
daily operations. The bases 100 Squadron were also working in
conjunction with the Swedish and the
exercise in much the same way that they do on a daily basis, by
operating in a mixed target facilities role, providing simulated ĎRed
Airí services to the front-line as well as exercise support both
domestically and to European allies. It also provides dedicated aircraft
to support the Joint Forward Air Controllers Training and Standards Unit
(JFACTSU), tasked with the training of all UK Forward Air Controllers.