From June 23rd until July 3rd 2003 NATO's AIRNORTH organized the annual exercise Clean Hunter.
All over Europe aircraft participated for the two daily sorties. In previous years the European mainland
morning missions were used to 'attack' the UK. In the afternoon the roles switched
and the missions were used to keep the 'aggressors' from the UK out of the European airspace.
In 2003 the focus of Clean Hunter shifted towards the new/future NATO members.
Poland was 'attacked' and some ranges in the Czech republic were used.
Participating countries were: Germany, France, United Kingdom, Unites States, Poland, the Netherlands
Czech Republic, Italy, Turkey, Belgium, Norway, Denmark and Canada.
4 CF-18's (taking-off from Aalborg) went up directly to the tanker, for just a little bit of fuel.
And the pilots were kind enough to make a nice stack-up for 'photographing purposes'.
One hour later the last 2 CF-18's came in position. These pilots were in a rush, so there was not much
time to do an extra stack-up.
No 'bootleggers' (fuel-thirsty aircraft flying in the neighborhood) were available that morning and
the 6 expected CF-18's remained the only receivers. After signing-off with the Danish groundstation 'Showboat'
the mission ended at Hohn with a nice overhead pattern.
The Canadian Air Force prefers a participation to the Clean Hunter exercise over the NATO Air Meet exercise. Because CH has 2 missions per day for 9 days, while the NAM has only 1 mission a day. It is
The Canadian participation this year consisted of 9 CF-18's and 2 CC-130 tankers for Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR).
The CF-18's were based at Aalborg in Denmark and the 2 CC-130 tankers were based at Hohn in northern Germany.
After some email correspondence, the authorization for the flight was arranged well before the exercise started.
Access to the airbase of Hohn was also arranged easily with the help of the German Air Force.
Arriving at Hohn at 06.15 in the morning (after driving the whole night), the CC-130 took off around 07.45.
Within 30 minutes the refueling track above Karup base was established. Several thousand feet above us,
a KC-135 from Mildenhall was in a similar track for boom refueling. 4 and 2 CF-18 were scheduled, the
'lynx' and the 'cats' formation.
Crew of the tanker