ONE of the largest air, land and sea military training exercises to be undertaken in Europe is to take place off Scotland next month in a show of Nato strength to deter Russian aggression.


Downing Street said David Cameron had already announced greater collaboration with Nato on its military training exercises to tackle new threats faced by the Alliance but announced that from April the UK's flagship series of military exercises - Joint Warrior - would officially become part of Nato's exercise programme.

The agreement came as the Prime Minister met the new Nato Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, in No 10 ahead of the Afghanistan Service of Commemoration in St Paul's Cathedral.

The Joint Warrior exercise from April 13 to 24 will involve up to 12,000 armed forces personnel from more than a dozen Nato countries and close partners.

It will feature more than 58 warships and submarines, over 50 fixed-wing aircraft and nearly 3000 land forces from the participating nations.

The exercise will take place from the Irish Sea north of Cape Wrath and east to the Moray Firth.

Joint Warrior will prepare personnel for Nato's next exercise - Trident Juncture - which will take place in the Iberian Peninsula between September and November this year and will be the largest live exercise of its kind for over a decade.

The UK's contribution to this exercise will include an Army Brigade Headquarters and Battlegroup, a Naval Task Force including helicopter carrier, assault ship, a frigate and Mine Counter Measure Vessel and RAF Typhoon fighter aircraft.

The Prime Minister said: "These exercises showcase the breadth of the UK's military capability and demonstrate the strength of the Nato Alliance.

"We will continue to play a leading role in Nato and, by working together with our Allies, we send a clear message to those who threaten us; that the UK and Nato have the military capabilities, resolve and ability to support our Eastern Allies and defend our own waters and airspace."

In preparation for Nato's HQ Allied Rapid Reaction Corps - based in Gloucestershire - becoming the standby Joint Task Force Headquarters in 2015/16, the Alliance will run a training exercise involving around 850 UK troops.

Exercise Arcade Fusion will take place in the Baltic States towards the end of the year and will contribute to the development of Nato's Very High Readiness Joint Taskforce, which the UK will be the lead nation on once it is established in 2017.

"Exercise Joint Warrior provides realistic training platforms for our armed forces, testing the vast capabilities of the three services while working very closely alongside our Allies. Making it part of the Nato programme will act as a timely reminder to the world of just how proud and powerful the Alliance is," said Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary.

Tensions between the West and Russia have intensified greatly following the annexation of Crimea and Moscow's military involvement in eastern Ukraine.

Last month, RAF jets were scrambled after two Russian Bear bombers were seen off the Cornwall coast. In response, the PM said "the Russians are trying to make some sort of point" but stressed Britain had the aircraft and systems in place to protect the nation.

On the same day, Mr Fallon warned that Russia's President Vladimir Putin posed a "real and present danger" to three Baltic states.

Earlier this week, No 10 made clear Mr Cameron was to snub an invitation from Mr Putin for the PM to attend a World War Two Victory Day celebration in Moscow on May 9. US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have also declined the invitation.