This year the Swiss Air Force will exercise for 4 weeks, from November 14 to December 9, 2022 in Leeming, a small town in North Yorkshire (UK). This is a very important annual outing as it allows Swiss pilots to practice with the RAF “the basics of air policing in low-level flying conditions as well as to deepen their knowledge and skills in the field of night air defence” (Source Swiss DDPS).
The exercise in the north of England, called YORKNITE, represents a central element of night and low altitude flight training, during which the Swiss Air Force completes almost half of its annual training in its fighter aircraft.
Why exercising abroad?
This type of training based on international standards in Switzerland is not possible, due to many restrictions and collateral effects such as but not limited to the size of territory, low number of training areas, high civilian air traffic, supersonic speed and low altitude restrictions, high population density which pairs with noise pollution… and off course, the need to maintain the expertise level of Swiss pilots, therefore, the exercise is repeated almost every year in the UK. The event is based on an agreement signed in 2004 between the two countries.
According to our sources, it is planned to fly the planes in the Low Flying Areas, (LFA) 11,12,13,16 and 17 (Source Gov.uk) which fits perfectly due to low population density and vast land and sea spaces suitable for the exercise.
Delayed departure and returning to the starting point for one “Hornet”
Due to bad weather conditions in Leeming on 14th November 2022, the departure of 10 aircraft from Payerne took place in the morning of 15th November 2022. The fleet consisted of 7 F/A-18 C and 3 F/A-18 D aircrafts, all loaded with dual fuel tanks. Following a technical incident a few minutes after flying, probably above one of the F/A-18 C with registration J-5003, fortunately returned to the Payerne base without any apparent problems. The firemen were present to prepare for any eventuality.
Article and images: Aviation Report / Deyan Raleff