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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2006, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Nato forces in Scottish exercise
Warships (Pic: Ministry of Defence)
Warships will come under a series of simulated attacks
Warships will be attacked by "terrorists" on water scooters as they move up the Clyde in a major exercise.

Neptune Warrior, or NW 063, will also see mock aerial bombing attacks on civilian airports in the Hebrides.

The exercise, which will run from 23 October to 2 November, has previously been criticised by the Scottish Greens.

They were unhappy with live firing in Sutherland. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it has had talks with the Scottish Executive on the issue.

NW 063 will mostly be concentrated on the west coast of the Highlands, but will also take in the Clyde, Argyll and the north east.

The invasion of Iraq and the war on terror have strongly influenced the planning for the latest round of the exercise.

It will involve more than 4,000 servicemen and women from 11 countries.

Eight frigates

They include the US, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Italy, Norway, Belgium, Canada, France and Denmark.

There will be five ships along with four destroyers, eight frigates, seven mine hunters and three submarines.

Also, 11 helicopters and up to 50 land-based aircraft, including 32 fast jets will take part.

The MoD said the aim of the exercise is to allow the countries to test their systems, practise team working and to learn from their mistakes.

Loch Ewe, Wester Ross
Bombers will fly over Loch Ewe in Wester Ross

The training will be in preparation for future real life missions.

A round of Neptune Warrior held in the summer drew criticism from the Scottish Greens.

They were angry at the frequency of the exercise and training at Cape Wrath, Sutherland, which is part of a Unesco Geopark.

The MoD said any potential environmental impacts from NW 063 have been discussed with the executive, local communities, land owners, fishing communities and environmental groups.

The ministry has released a list of groups and areas it has said it may come into direct contact with during the exercise

Fishermen in the Minch, Sea of the Hebrides, off Campbeltown, Ullapool and Stornoway have been warned of surface ship and submarine activity.

Training will also include the practice of hailing, stopping and boarding civilian vessels.

Loch Ewe in Wester Ross and Campbeltown will be the scene of simulated bombing sorties by RAF and Nato aircraft against ships and ground targets.

There will be mock attacks against the fleet by aircraft and ships off the Isle of Skye and the Hebrides.

Royal Marines in small boats and troops on sea scooters will 'attack' warships leaving Faslane and the Clyde.

Two Danish ships will sail from Leith on 22 November and return to the area on completion of the exercise.

There will be firing against targets at Cape Wrath, but also training at Loch Eriboll and Durness similar to navy support used to cover land forces in the Al-Faw peninsula during the invasion of Iraq.

Merlin helicopter (Pic: Ministry of Defence)
Eleven helicopters will take part

Stornoway Airport will be the main base for a support helicopter.

A Lynx helicopter from HMS Montrose may operate out of Stornoway for the first week and occasionally aircraft will conduct simulated bombing 'attacks' against the airport.

Plockton airfield will be visited by military helicopters from the fleet and a British International Sikorsky S61 helicopter based at Stornoway.

Navy vessels will use Oban as a logistics site.

A radar system at Benbecula airfield, Uist, will monitor the skies during NW 063 and, like Tiree airfield, will occasionally be a target for simulated bombing attacks.

There will be low flying across central and eastern Scotland.

The French Navy will deploy four Super Etendard aircraft to RAF Kinloss, Moray, operating and training with Tornado F3s and GR4s.


SEE ALSO
Major military exercise reduced
14 Jun 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Military exercise off Cape Wrath
09 Jun 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Major military exercise under way
02 Jun 06 |  South of Scotland

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