The Indian Mirages, at their first deployment to the UK, are the highlight of Exercise Cobra Warrior 2023.
Currently underway in the UK, Cobra Warrior 2023 is a Royal Air Force-hosted multinational live-fly exercise that sees the participation of combat aircraft from Belgium and the United States, as well as for the first time, from Finland, India and Saudi Arabia. The drills, the largest run by the RAF, take place twice a year and is designed to train participants in high intensity, large force, tactical air warfighting operations.
The current iteration, underway from Mar. 2 to 24, 2023 involves 70 aircraft: besides the U.S. aircraft based in the UK, the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) has deployed six Eurofighter Typhoons to RAF Coningsby. Six Belgian Air Force F-16s, six Finnish Air Force F-18s and five Indian Air Force Mirage 2000 aircraft, operate out of RAF Waddington. The latter, at their first deployment to the UK, are the real highlights of this year’s Cobra Warrior.
International participants taking part in the biannual Ex Cobra Warrior have begun arriving in the UK to prepare for the exercise, which will see 70 aircraft participating.
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— Royal Air Force (@RoyalAirForce) March 2, 2023
Our friend Ben Ramsay at UK Aviation Movies went to the base in Lincolnshire on Mar. 6, 2023, and shot the footage that you can find in this post, featuring thee Dassault Mirage 2000TI and a single Mirage 2000I, departing under radio callsign MERCURY, for a Cobra Warrior mission.
MERCURY 73 (tail code KT208) and MERCURY 74 ( tail code KT211) were the first two jets to depart followed later by MERCURY 71 (KT213) and MERCURY 72 (KF118). The jets are from No.7 Sqn “The Battle Axes” of the IAF, based at Gwalior Air Force Station, some 350 kilometers southeast of Delhi, the capital city of India. Gwalior is the only Mirage 2000 airbase in India, hosting three squadrons.
Since it received its first aircraft in 1985, the IAF has received 51 Mirage jets in different batches, which were upgraded in 2018. The aircraft has been extensively used during the Kargil war against Pakistan in Kashmir and long the Line Of Control in 1999 carrying the Paveway LGBs (Laser Guided Bombs). The Mirage 2000s were also involved in the bombing raid conducted on Feb. 26, 2019, in Balakot, Pakistan, against an alleged terrorist training camp.
“These jets were so unbelievably loud that they shook the optics in my camera as their burners were engaged,” Ben said in the comment he added to the video on Youtube. “They are powered by a single SNECMA M53-P2, which is an upgraded version of the original M53. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve heard a louder fighter.”
According to NATO Allied Air Command, Cobra Warrior will allow participating units to train in the full spectrum of Air Operations, including Defensive and Offensive Counter-Air as well as Strike Operations. These will include RAF Regiment Precision Strike Teams, Air Manoeuvre operations to support ground forces, and also further developing a Joint Personnel Recovery Capability. The exercise does not only focus on the Air domain, but also Space and Cyber and for this iteration Land as well.
RAF Voyager aircraft flying from RAF Brize Norton are supporting the fast jets conducting air-to-air refuelling operations. The airspace reserved for the exercise includes parts of the North of England and Scotland plus out over the North Sea. UK Joint Helicopter Command as well as RAF’s Air Mobility Force aircraft are also taking part in the exercise.