Marine Corps Airstation Miramar, Calif. -- Service members with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) began Exercise PUMA STRIKE with 24 CF-18 Hornets aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, Oct. 31.
Pilots, air crew, technicians and support personnel from 3 Wing, Bagotville; 4 Wing, Canadian Force Base Cold Lake; 17 Wing, Winnipeg; and 414 Electronic Warfare Squadron from Ottawa, Ontario, deployed to MCAS Miramar to conduct this warm weather training exercise.
The squadrons conduct this training year-round in Cold Lake and other parts of Canada, however, poor flying conditions such as low cloud and reduced visibility impact training and cause problems meeting deadlines.
“This deployment is an outstanding opportunity for the RCAF’s fighter force to conduct worthwhile, uninhibited training in an operating environment different from our own,” said RCAF Col. Paul Doyle, commander of 4 Wing Cold Lake. “This is a controlled way to expose our people to new agencies and procedures, which will surely expand their knowledge and be put to use when deployed on operations outside Canada.”
Also participating in Exercise PUMA STRIKE are Air Combat Systems Officers (ACSO), who ride in the rear seat of contracted Dornier Alpha Jets, operated by Discovery Air Defence Services. They help simulate real-world combat situations for CF-18 Hornet pilots and students.
“Exercise PUMA STRIKE is our opportunity to conduct an incredible amount of flying in a relatively short period of time,” said RCAF Lt. Col. Seane Doell, commanding officer of 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron (Tac F (OT) Sqn).
A change of environment with the addition of new variables for the entire deployed contingent provides a unique training experience that will better prepare all those involved for real world operations.
“The favorable weather conditions and deployment settings have historically enabled 410 Tactical Fighter (Operational Training) Squadron to achieve a sortie generation rate approximately 300 percent greater than is typically possible at home at this time of year,” said Doell.
Despite all the obstacles that come with traveling to far away locations, and the tremendous work load tasked to each and every service member, the RCAF is sure to have another successful year of training while enjoying the beautiful weather aboard MCAS Miramar.