4 Wing Cold Lake, Canada's largest and busiest fighter wing and site of a number of exciting training opportunities.

4 Wing - with its focus on people, leadership, innovation and technology - is an international centre of excellence for tactical fighter operations, leading-edge technology, and deployable combat support.

This fighter wing is made up of two operational CF-18 squadrons, two training squadrons, and a host of first-rate support units. The Wing is proud to be host to Phase IV of NATO Flying in Canada (NFTC), a training program that contributes to making NATO a strong fighting force.

Some of the best and most sought after amenities in the world, including an almost unrestricted 1.17 million hectare air weapons range equipped with state-of-the-art threats and targets; a vast array of support facilities; an annual, international air combat exercise called Maple Flag - these are just a few of the reasons 4 Wing Cold Lake is a leading, world-class centre for coalition training.

Training Opportunities

Training assets and opportunities that are unmatched.

  • Air Expeditionary Force (AEF) Capability and are ready to provide Canada and her friends and allies with national and international AEF training opportunities. Air Expeditionary Unit (AEU) Base Camp includes an AEU Command Centre, field kitchens, mess tents, ablution facilities, as well as medical, supply, and engineering facilities. International partners are invited to exercise their expeditionary capabilities at 4 Wing by making use of the base's vast space and the expertise of its personnel.
  • Stadium-sized hangars can accommodate virtually all aircraft types used in training operations.
  • Three large runways and a vast amount of ramp space make large-scale operations and training exercises at 4 Wing a rewarding experience. 4 Wing can host more than 220 fighter-sized airframes, and provide take off and landing options for almost any type of aircraft.
  • On-Site Ground Control Intercept (GCI). With its experienced controllers and AN/TPS-70 radar, 4 Wing GCI integrates skilfully into any training exercise, giving aircrews realistic training in a modern simulated air combat environment.
  • The mission of 4 Wing's Air Force Tactical Training Centre (AFTTC) is to be a centre of excellence for air and ground training, and coordinate the provision of support services to Canada and her coalition allies wishing to conduct tactical training at 4 Wing. AFTTC's knowledgeable and capable staff specializes in the management of international, coalition air combat exercises such as Maple Flag.

Tactical Combat Force Training

4 Wing is a world-class centre of excellence for tactical fighter operations. Experienced and skilled operational and support personnel at 4 Wing are ready to work with international partners to achieve specific unit tactical training goals.

With its optimal location, outstanding training assets, vast and unrestricted airspace and cutting-edge technology, 4 Wing is a leading centre for coalition training.

Air Combat

4 Wing's reputation and experience with large-scale tactical exercises such as Maple Flag make it the perfect venue for any type of tactical fighter-pilot training.

Night Operations

Graced with north-eastern Alberta winters, 4 Wing is the perfect location to conduct night operations. The sun sets early in the evening and rises late in the morning, providing pilots with the opportunity to training for many hours in complete darkness.

Tactical Transport

The Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) has multiple drop zones and austere airfields, making it a premier location for tactical transport training.

Ground Threats

Cutting-edge technology, such as the Surface Threat Electronic Warfare (STEW) system, provide aircrews with realistic training in a modern simulated air combat environment. Premier debriefing tools allow aircrews to maximize the training benefit of missions conducted at 4 Wing.

Survival and CSAR

4 Wing's diverse terrain and four seasons make it the perfect place to conduct survival training and combat search and rescue (CSAR) exercises.

Target Strike

The Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR), with its vast and unrestricted airspace with no civilian air traffic and more than 600 targets, is a attractive training area for allied air forces. Fighter crews from all over the world use the range annually during Exercise Maple Flag.

Expeditionary Force

With proven expeditionary facilities, knowledgeable personnel and an ideal location, 4 Wing is the venue to train for real world, expeditionary force deployments.

NATO Flying Training

4 Wing Cold Lake's reputation as one of the world's finest fighter-training facilities prompted the establishment of Phase IV of the NATO Flying Training in Canada(NFTC) program in Cold Lake. The immense size of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) provides ample airspace for effective jet-pilot tactical flying training, making it the ideal location for Phase IV's Fighter Lead-In Training (FLIT) module.

NATO Flying Training in Canada

NFTC was launched in 1994. Collaboratively designed to meet the pilot training objectives of Canada and NATO-members, the program provides training and military instruction from all participating nations. Also involved in the NFTC program are Bombardier Inc., a company that provides aircraft maintenance, and Canadian Aviation Electronics (CAE), a company that supports 4 Wing's state-of-the-art flight simulators.

NATO flying training is broken up into four phases. Phase I is the selection phase, and is the individual responsibility of each nation. Phase II (basic) and III (advanced) train and award pilot wings to successful candidates, and take place in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. Phase IV, the tactical training phase, is the final phase of training in the NFTC program, and takes place in Cold Lake, Alberta.

The NFTC program will continue to provide Canada and her allies with top-notch pilot training for the next 20 years, thus helping to make NATO a strong, fighting force.


After flying the CT-156 Harvard II in Moose Jaw, students fly the CF-155 Hawk in Moose Jaw and Cold Lake. In Cold Lake, students become members of 419 Squadron, a unit with a strong and proud history. Students learn air-to-air and air-to-ground combat operation procedures, and prepare for training in high performance jet aircraft.


4 Wing Cold Lake is located 287 km (180 miles) north-east of Edmonton, and 600 km (373 miles) north-east of Calgary in Alberta, Canada.

  • Area - 661,190 square km (6.6% of national total)
  • Population - 2,974,807 (2001 census, Statistics Canada); 80% urban, 20% rural
  • Major Cities - Edmonton, Calgary
  • Time Zone - Mountain Time; seven hours behind GMT, six hours behind GMT during DST
  • Temperatures - January: -8'C in south, -24'C in north; July: 20'C in south, 16'C in north
  • Natural Resources - Oil, Natural Gases, Lumber, Coal
  • Wildlife - Big Horn Sheep, Bald Eagles, Pika, Elk, Moose, Ptarmigan, Black Bear, White-Tailed Deer, Osprey


Opportunities for varied and challenging training exist at 4 Wing thanks in part to the diverse topography and four seasons experienced in north-eastern Alberta.

  • Forest
  • Farm land
  • Lakes
  • Foothills
  • Mountains
  • Desert
  • Muskeg

4 Wing is ideally located close to Land Force Western Area Training Centre (Wainwright), and relatively close to Canadian Forces Base Suffield.

Unrestricted Airspace

The skies above 4 Wing are home to one of the largest unrestricted airspaces in the world. Its Low Flying Area spans from British Columbia to Manitoba.

This vast, sparsely-populated airspace allows pilots to proceed tactically almost immediately after take off. The close proximity of the base to the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) reduces costs normally reserved for transit time, and allows aircrews to focus without delay on the training objectives at hand.

4 Wing is ideally located close to Land Force Western Area Training Centre (Wainwright), and relatively close to Canadian Forces Base Suffield.

  • home to one of the largest unrestricted airspaces in the world.
  • Low Flying Area (shaded green area) in comparison with Europe.
  • The Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) airspace is divided into multiple Air Combat Manoeuvering (ACM) areas, thus availing military personnel with the ability to perform multiple air combat operations at one time. These ACM areas can also be combined to form a massive, operational theatre-sized airspace that is perfect for large-scale coalition exercises such as Maple Flag.
  • Aircraft flying within the CLAWR are able to manoeuver at supersonic speeds from the surface of the range to an infinite altitude, thus providing absolute training freedom in any situation.

Cold Lake Air Weapons Range

The Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) covers more than 1 million hectares (11,600 square km), and is the only tactical bombing range in Canada. Vast, unrestricted airspace with no civilian air traffic and more than 640 targets make it an attractive training area for allied air forces. Fighter crews from all over the world use the range annually during Exercise Maple Flag.

New weapon delivery systems, such as Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), fit within the usage template for the CLAWR. Additionally, three special-use ranges are available for meeting specific training needs.

Academic Range

The Jimmy Lake Academic Weapons Range is available for low, medium and high altitude practice weapons delivery.

The features of this range include:

  • Strafe pits for air-to-ground gunnery
  • Skip pits for modular practice bombs
  • Rocket range

Heavy Weapons Range

The Shaver Heavy Weapons Range gives pilots the ability to deliver live heavy weapons such as precision guidance munitions (PGMs) or laser-guided bombs (LGBs) on various target-types. The ability to practice with live ordnance provides invaluable training experience for aircrews.

Evaluation Range

Primrose Lake Evaluation Range (PLER) is 4 Wing's primary test range. Part of the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR), it has two land drop zones and one water drop zone.

Photo- and video-theodolites, as well as impact scoring, are available at all three drop zones. Infrared system testing, such as minimum discernible temperature resolution, is also possible at PLER.

Unrestricted Airspace

The Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR) airspace is divided into multiple Air Combat Manoeuvering (ACM) areas, giving coalition forces the ability to perform multiple air combat operations at one time.


4 Wing's Air Combat Manoeuvring Instrumentation System (ACMI) gives tracking capability to participant aircraft in both the tethered and non-tethered mode.

Over 640 Targets

The CLAWR contains more than 640 different target types that range from mock airfields to industrial complexes.

More than 640 targets making up nearly 100 target complexes are strategically placed throughout the CLAWR. The tactical, industrial, airfield and threat targets are coordinated to offer realistic simulations of war zones and to maximize training opportunities on the range.

Because of the realism and the abundance of targets in the CLAWR, the range has been described by coalition partners as "the world's largest Hollywood set."

Surface ThreatsThe Surface Threat Electronic Warfare (STEW) system provides aircrews with realistic ground-threat radar waveforms simulating in-cockpit Radar Warning Receivers (RWR).

Tactical Targets

A large variety of target types are located throughout the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR). These targets are built to resemble tanks, missile launchers, radar sites, industrial sites, command and control centres, and various types of vehicles and aircraft.

The great number and variety of weapon targets interspersed within the CLAWR make it a dynamic and realistic training environment. Varying training scenarios with differing strike targets can be quickly created to suit specific training needs.

Mock Airfield Targets

Among the impressive target complexes within the CLAWR are its seven mock airfields. These airfield targets simulate complete aerodromes and include runways, ramps, taxiways and dispersal areas. Buildings and ¾-scale airframes and vehicles are also present, thus adding to the realism and training efficacy of these mock aerodromes.

Target Groups

A large variety of buildings, communication towers, fuel depots and vehicles have been placed throughout the range. These mock-ups accurately simulate tactical targets, and provide aircrews with realistic targeting opportunities that emulate real world target groupings.

Live-Drop Targets

Targets within the Shaver Heavy Weapons Range are designed for heavy, live-drop ordnance.

Industrial Targets

Many no-drop infrared and radar-significant industrial complexes are dispersed throughout the CLAWR. These targets give aircrews the opportunity to use different types of sensor pods and exercise sensor-targeting skills.