Exercise Crown CondorPhotographer: Frank Grealish
9th & 10th October 2008Location:
RAF Fairford (FFD / EGVA), UK - England
Exercise Crown Condor took place at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England, from the 6th to the 16th October 2008. IrishAirPics paid a visit to Fairford on the 9th & 10th of October to report on the exercise.
Aircraft participating in Crown Condor consisted of Saab JAS.39C single seater & JAS.39D twin seater Gripens from 171 Squadron / 17 Wing Royal Swedish Air Force based at Ronneby while the Royal Air Force attended with Panavia Tornado GR.4's from 12(B) Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth.
Crown Condor allowed 12(B) Squadron to prepare for the setting up of, and operations from, a austere Deployed Operating Base (DOB), something that may be called for as part of their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan as part of Operation Herrick. Tornado's are set to replace the Harriers that are currently deployed in support of that mission.
The Royal Swedish Air Force took part in Crown Condor under the auspices of the NATO Partnership for Peace Programme, this exercise provided the Swedes with a valuable opportunity to gain experience operating with another nation. The Swedish contingent, all from 171 Squadron, comprised 100 personnel, 18 of whom pilots.
The Royal Air Force contingent was assembled at Fairford under the auspices of the 140th Expeditionary Air Wing (140 EAW, one of nine such wings within the RAF). Approximately 1000 RAF personnel were deployed to Fairford, 250 of which were from 12(B) Squadron (although the aircraft used belonged to more than one squadron) while the rest of the personnel came from all over the RAF.
The Expeditionary Air Wing concept has its origin in the Second World War when EAWs were formed so that the RAF could project Allied Air Power around the world.
During the Cold War era the emphasis turned to largely static forces with home defence being the main priority. The expeditionary nature of UK Forces changed during the Cold War era which signalled a move to largely static forces with a home defence posture being adopted by western military forces. However, the end of the Cold War there has seen a dramatic shift of focus back to expeditionary operations.
The exercise was supported by a number of Air Combat Service Support units, the services provided include:
- Air Movements & Transport
- Airfield Services & Facilities
- Logistics & Administration
- Comunications & Signals
- Medical / Media
- Bomb Disposal / Armament
- Force Protection
Exercise Crown Condor was part of a much larger UK wide exercise running concurrently called Joint Warrior 2008, Serial 2 (JW 082). Joint Warrior included participants from the Uk and 8 other countries including multiple Forward Air Controllers (FACs), 6 infantry companies, 29 ships, 4 submarines and 60 aircraft flying at a daily rate of approximately 80-100 daily sorties. The flying exercises included, among others, Close Air Support (CAS) and Large Force Element (LFE) missions.(You may be wondering why there are pictures of a Lockheed U-2 at the end of this photo report... during the period that Exercise Crown Condor was held a number of U-2's passed through RAF Fairford both going on and returning from deployment in operational areas. Although unconnected with the exercise I have included pictures of the aircraft here.)
IrishAirPics would like to thank the following for their help and support during the media visit to Crown Condor at RAF Fairford:
- Squadron Leader Andy Bryne (Chief Media Ops),
- Squadron Leader Charlie Petersen (Media Ops),
- Flying Officer Lottie Gunn (Media Ops Group 140 EAW),
- Mr Simon Mander (Air Command Media Ops).