This is everything you need to know about 'Joint Warrior' - the military exercise which involved RAF planes flying low over country

With late-night low flights by military jets and helicopters have left many confused by aerial goings-on over Fife and the Lothians.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 1:12 pm
Updated Thursday, 8th October 2020, 1:34 pm
In the past Chinooks have been spotted landing on Inchkeith
In the past Chinooks have been spotted landing on Inchkeith

Why is this happening?

Exercise Joint Warrior is the largest military exercise in Europe, bringing together the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force and the British Army, as well as forces from other nations.

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It takes place in spring and autumn each year.

Who and what is involved?

According to the Royal Navy, 3,725 military personnel are taking part, along with 16 warships and 58 aircraft.

They all come from 14 nations, including the UK Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Turkey, Japan, UAE and the US.

What are they doing?

Among the practice manoeuvres being undertaken are airborne assaults, amphibious landings, evacuations and live-fire exercises.

The exercise runs through a range of scenarios, including crisis and conflict situations, that could be realistically encountered in operations, such as territory disputes, terrorist activity and piracy.

The exercise doesn’t only allow participating units to hone their specialist roles within a larger war-style setting – it also helps foster vital links between the UK, NATO and other allied militaries.

Where and when is the activity taking place?

So far residents of coastal areas of Fife and the Lothians have seen or heard low-flying aircraft, often at night.

Previous exercises have involved Chinook helicopters using cover of darkness to land and deploy special forces on Inchkeith island in the middle of the Forth, with loud bangs heard throughout the night.

Why do the military need to do this?

The Royal Navy says the aim is to provide a complex environment in which the participants can train together, honing tactics and skills in preparation for deployment as a Combined Joint Task Force.

How realistic are these training measures?

The scenario for each Joint Warrior is designed to reflect contemporary political tensions – such as the War on Terror and the threat posed by ISIS. The aim is to ensure the military is ready for any potential threats. Some parts of the exercise involve live rounds.

How long will it go on for?

While the exact start and end date are unclear, we do know that the exercise runs for around two weeks. So you may not have been woken for the last time.