Technology has always driven aerial warfare and the RCAF says it needs to adapt training to meet new challenges. So it’s postponing its signature battle exercise in the coming year. Maple Flag, which draws fighter and other combat crews from allied air forces all over the world to the vast and virtually unrestricted Cold Lake Air Weapons Range every summer, will skip 2019 while the RCAF updates the range to match current combat realities. “With the many technological advancements in military aviation over the decades, there has emerged a need for training methods and infrastructure to advance as well,” RCAF Commander Lt-Gen. Al Meinzinger said in a statement. “Our adversaries are innovating, and so must we and our Allies.”
Former Chief of Defence Staff and retired RCAF Gen. Tom Lawson told Radio-Canada the nature of battle has changed dramatically and the training must change. He said the battles in the Middle East with isolated pockets of enemies have challenged the air arm and the emergence of technologically advanced aircraft from traditional adversaries needs to be addressed. “And then as Russia and China introduce stealth into their fighter forces, how is the Cold Lake’s Weapons Range going to be developed to upgrade the training sites to prepare Canadian and allied forces to train for that?” Lawson said. The Air Force isn’t saying when the next Maple Flag will be held but it’s said it’s committed to continuing to host the exercise.