EX MAPLE STRIKE 17-01
Aircraft circled overhead for two weeks during Ex MAPLE STRIKE, a bi-annual close air support exercise, in the CFB Wainwright Range Training Area. Canadian Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs), along with international partners from France and Germany, were heavily supported throughout the exercise. CF-18 Hornet aircraft, as well as a contracted German Learjet simulating an F-15E, provided live and dry close air support. CH-146 Griffon helicopters provided Army Attack Aviation support, while a Mini Unmanned Aerial System (MUAS) Raven was used to conduct Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR). A live mortar detachment from 1 RCHA was deployed to mark targets for inbound aircraft with smoke or illumination, as well as conduct Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD). Finally, the complex airspace picture was made even more challenging through the successful integration of the Tactical Air Control Party (TACP) and Ground Force Commanders, who manage the larger airspace picture and provide the JTAC with the intent that must be met, respectively for each training scenario.
The assets available during Ex MAPLE STRIKE provided the training environment for JTAC-Instructors and Evaluators to derive challenging training scenarios for CAF and partner-nation JTACs. Dry training was conducted on the western side of the CFB Wainwright RTA with the German Leer Jet. Simultaneously to the east, JTACs employed the most modern laser target designators, infrared pointers and video downlink systems Canada has to offer while live ordinance came off the rails of CF-18s. These different training stands provided venues for Limited Combat Ready JTACs to achieve Combat Ready status, while JTACs already Combat Ready were able to maintain proficiency and currency.
Among the personnel manning the OP were domestic and foreign students on the Canadian-run Joint Terminal Attack Controller Instructor course. These candidates used Ex MAPLE STRIKE to hone their skills as instructors, Air-to-Ground Range Safety Officers, and Range Officers-in-Command.
Ex MAPLE STRIKE has proved once again to be a valuable training exercise for CAF Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, Instructors, Evaluators, and international JTAC partners.
Capt A.S. Brideau
BK A Bty