Ex Cobra Warrior
Logistics squadrons from the A4 Force at RAF Wittering have been fuelling
and feeding international military Exercise COBRA WARRIOR at RAF Waddington
Aircraft from the German, Italian and Israeli Air Forces joined aircraft from the Royal Air Force and United States Air Force in high intensity tactical training. Around 50 aircraft of various types took part in the exercise, which ran until the end of September.
Over a few weeks, the Fuels Support Team from No 1 Expeditionary Logistics (EL) Squadron built the Primary Bulk Fuel Installation (PBFI) at RAF Waddington. These large portable tanks allow the Royal Air Force to have an aircraft fuels depot anywhere in the world, especially in places where fuels are not easily available.
Building a PBFI is a complex process and fuels are dangerous if not handled and stored properly. The PBFI requires solid foundations and must be built to precise measurements if it is to work properly.
Sergeant Sadie Johnstone from 1 EL Squadron ran the PBFI on Exercise Cobra Warrior. She said: “Building and operating a PBFI in an exercise is challenging and rewarding. The Fuels Support Team work exceptionally hard in all-weather conditions to ensure we meet our operational capability deadlines. There is a huge sense of relief and satisfaction once we have successfully tested the site and taken fuel ready to issue to aircraft.”
Hundreds of men and women from the participating nations flew and maintained the aircraft during the exercise. Cobra Warrior is designed to test and grow the leadership skills of aircrew and groundcrew. Over the weeks they developed and practiced tactics and techniques against a capable enemy.
The RAF is currently engaged in 15 missions on four continents in 22 countries and the A4 Force is involved in most of them. The A4 Force is made up of specialised engineering and logistics squadrons. From aircraft repair and recovery, to road transport, supply, catering and even mountain rescue, these squadrons deploy at short notice and go anywhere in the world to support Royal Air Force operations.
No 3 Mobile Catering Squadron (3 MCS) kept the exercise fed with a nutritionally balanced diet. International exercises like Cobra Warrior can be challenging as in addition to British personnel, the chefs of 3MCS must prepare meals which the German, Italian and American air forces can enjoy. The team had to produce three meals per day for 500 people.
Acting Flight Sergeant Matt Caffyn, who ran a team of 19 chefs from across the MOD, said: “One of the challenges is getting an accurate idea of how many people we’re feeding during the day, because the phases of the exercise don’t run in sync with meal times, but it was great cooking for the Germans and the Italians. The Germans were more than happy and the Italians were taking pictures of the servery. The British were really chuffed, as usual.”
Group Captain Jo Lincoln, RAF Wittering Station Commander and A4 Force Element Commander, said: “During exercises and operations we expect to work with other military forces, so we have to be ready for the different requirements they have. That means a fuels team who can look after fuels safely, and a catering
squadron that understands the dietary needs of other nationalities.”
She concluded: “You can never take anything for granted on an exercise like Cobra Warrior which provides an excellent training opportunity for the A4 Force; there are always new things to learn. The experienced and skilled teams from 1 (EL) Sqn and 3 MCS are there to ensure that people and aircraft have the food and fuel they need so that the exercises can be a success.”