Royal Canadian Air Force hosts Exercise Maple Flag

News Article / May 24, 2016

Royal Canadian Air Force

Exercise Maple Flag, the Royal Canadian Air Force’s largest and most complex international training event of the year, begins next week in Cold Lake, Alberta.

“Exercise Maple Flag is a direct contributor to the RCAF’s success in generating world-class air power. This exercise is a great opportunity to enhance our agility, reach, and power, while integrating with our domestic joint partners and allies,” said Major-General David Wheeler, commander of 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Taking place between May 30 and June 24, Exercise Maple Flag brings together up to 1,300 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel in participant or supporting roles, and more than 400 personnel from five allied and partner nations, along with multiple aircraft, including:

  • From Canada: CF-188 Hornet fighters, CH-146 Griffon helicopters,  CP-140 Auroras, CC-177 Globemaster III heavy lift aircraft, CC-130 Hercules air-to-air refueling and transport aircraft, and contracted Dornier Alpha Jets
  • From the United States: C-130 Hercules aircraft and E-3 Sentry aircraft
  • From France: Mirage 2000-5 and Rafale fighter aircraft
  • From the United Kingdom: E-3 Sentry aircraft
  • From Germany: 1st Airborne Brigade, a combined non-flying special operations unit; and elements of the German Special Forces Command (KSK).
  • From Belgium: participants in a joint terminal air controller role.

This international exercise prepares Canadian and international aircrew, maintenance, and support personnel for the rigours of operations in the modern aerial battlespace. Exercises like this contribute to the operational readiness of the CAF so it can meet the likely tasks that the Government of Canada could assign.

“We are pleased to once again host Exercise Maple Flag in Cold Lake. The personnel of 4 Wing and CFB Cold Lake have been working hard over the past several months planning this incredible, fully immersive training opportunity for not only the Royal Canadian Air Force, but our international allies and partners,” noted Colonel Eric Kenny, the commander of 4 Wing.

 The outcomes of this exercise will undoubtedly provide those involved with the skills and expertise to operate effectively against any adversary.”

In recent years, Exercise Maple Flag has begun to fuse with elements of concurrent exercises, such as the Canadian Army-led Exercise Maple Resolve.

Participants will use a fictitious scenario in which they will fight against simulated threats using the latest in tactics, weaponry, and technology. The goal is to hone their skills within a realistic, evolving, and challenging operating environment. This exercise is as close as it gets to the real thing.

Participants from allied and partner forces include:

  • The United States Air Force
  • The United States Air Force Reserve
  • The Kentucky Air National Guard
  • The United States Marine Corps
  • The Royal Air Force
  • The French Air Force
  • The German Army
  • The Belgian Army

Exercise Maple Flag takes place primarily inside the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range (CLAWR). This unique airspace permits the use of a variety of simulated and live weapons systems, as well as supersonic flight.


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Aerospace Control Officers contribute to air operations by providing air traffic control services and air weapons control.

Aerospace Control Officers are responsible for the conduct of aerospace surveillance, warning, and control of airborne objects throughout Canadian airspace. As an integral part of the Canadian Air Navigation System, they also provide control to civilian and military aircraft during combat and training operations worldwide.

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