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Exercise Elder Forest

Volume 171: debated on Wednesday 25 April 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the exercise named Elder Forest and whether this is a regular exercise; how many of these exercises have recently taken place; which nations' aircraft were involved; over which countries the exercises took place; what aircraft were involved; what was the cost of each exercise to the United Kingdom; and if he will give details of any accidents which took place during the exercises.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many exercises along the lines of Elder Forest are planned for the years 1990–95; what is the number of missions in each exercise; what is the type of aircraft expected to be involved; which nations' aircraft are expected to be involved; over which countries are the exercises expected to take place; over which areas of the United Kingdom are the exercises projected to take place; and what will be the projected cost of each exercise.

Elder Forest is a biennial United Kingdom air defence exercise, centred on the United Kingdom air defence region, but involving aircraft from a number of NATO nations as well as the RAF. This year's is the sixth such exercise. Participating nations have typically included the United States, France, Germany, Norway, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands, contributing attack and electronic warfare support aircraft. The RAF will contribute tanker, air defence and attack aircraft. The costs of individual exercises are not kept centrally and it would involve disproportionate cost and effort to collate them. There has been one major accident involving an aircraft participating in Exercise Elder Forest since the series began. This occurred on 20 April 1988 when an RAF Phantom crashed into the sea 20 nautical miles east of Dundee. It is not possible at this stage to say how many missions will be flown in this year's exercise or in future ones.We expect the Elder Forest series of exercises to continue biennially for the foreseeable future, but it is too early to give precise details.