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From Sept. 9 to 20, 2019, personnel from Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) Aurora CP-140 fleet participated Exercise Coalition Virtual Flag (CVF) 19-4, which is led by the United States Air Force (USAF). More than 450 joint and coalition warfighters, located at 23 sites and on three different continents, participated.
Canadian participants used the Aurora procedure crew trainer (PCT) mission simulator located in 404 Long Range Patrol and Training Squadron’s Thorney Island Simulation Centre at 14 Wing Greenwood, N.S., to participate in the virtual exercise.
Using distributed mission training (DMT) architecture, the PCT was connected to dozens of combat missions and flight simulators throughout Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. The exercise was hosted by the 705th Combat Training Squadron (CTS) at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.
“Coalition Virtual Flag is an opportunity for our coalition and joint partners to get together. It’s a theatre-level exercise that we can practice our tactics, techniques and procedures,” explained the United States Air Force’s LCol Angela Messing, commander of 705th CTS. “It takes place in the virtual and simulated world with environment generators that replicate the exact threats that we’re facing.”
Canadian planning for the annual complex, joint warfare simulation started almost a year ago, with 404 Squadron’s modeling and simulation experts working closely with the Royal Canadian Navy’s Distributed Mission Operations Centre, the RCAF Aerospace Warfare Centre’s modelling and simulation co-ordination team, and modelling and simulation planners Distributed Mission Operations Center at Kirtland Air Force Base.
404 Squadron and 405 Long Range Patrol Squadron provided two crews to complete the five missions.
Crew planning took place over several days, and included preparing for authentic anti-surface and anti-submarine warfare tasks. The Aurora crews faced a multi-threat, open conflict simulation scenario, and worked alongside allies from the United States Air Force, the United States Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force and the Royal Air Force.
Exercise Coalition Virtual Flag represents the highest level of training that can be achieved through simulation. The crews must fight together or fail together. Miscommunication on and off their own aircraft can have deadly results, with friendly units engaged by opposing force weapons systems. The Aurora is a very capable surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft and, using its advanced sensors, has abundant tactical information to share with supported fighting forces.
Adding to the opportunity of exercising in a coalition DMT environment, crews conducted tactics development and confirmation for two tactical electronic warfare instructor course mentors. With the centre of excellence residing in 404 Squadron’s Simulation Flight, the CP-140 fleet will continue to advance its simulation training capabilities. Several small-scale monthly DMT exercises are planned with the Navy’s Distributed Mission Operations Centre and ships’ combat teams over the coming months.