Canadian air force exercises

Point Blank exercise over North Sea tests US and RAF warplanes

Image copyright PA Media Image caption The United States Air Force CV-22 Opsrey can take off and land like a helicopter

American military aircraft have joined UK fighter jets in a training exercise over the North Sea.

Exercise Point Blank, which included 35 aircraft from 10 units, aimed to hone how allies will fight in real world operations.

Among those taking part were a United States Air Force (USAF) CV-22 Osprey, which can take off and land like a helicopter but has aeroplane-style wings.

Image copyright PA Media Image caption The tiltrotor CV-22 was refuelled over the sea by an MC-130J Commando II aircraft

The tiltrotor aircraft, which can carry up to 32 troops and has a machine gun on its ramp, was refuelled over the North Sea from a MC-130J Commando II.

The cargo plane, based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk, flies clandestine or low-visibility refuelling missions for special operations helicopters and tiltrotor aircraft.

It is also used to bring troops and supplies in and out of warzones.

Image copyright PA Media Image caption The MC-130J refuelling aircraft was itself supplied with extra fuel by a KC-135 Stratotanker

During the exercise it was in turn refuelled from a KC-135 Stratotanker refueller plane.

The US aircraft were joined by UK Typhoon fighter jets from RAF airbases at Coningsby in Lincolnshire and Lossiemouth in Moray, which also took part in the exercise.

The Point Blank exercise takes place annually. Speaking ahead of a previous iteration, RAF Air Commodore Jez Attridge said he could see the “challenge that Russia is giving to the international rules-based order”, adding “we are the insurance policy”.

Image copyright PA Media Image caption The exercise involved 35 aircraft including this MC130-J based at RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk

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Feeling flabby as you sit at your desk? That’s the exact problem this set of exercises was designed to prevent. We’ve mentioned it before—the 5BX workout developed for the Royal Canadian Air Force. But today we are happy to bring you these famous exercises in the form of a video (er, film reel).


The routine enjoyed popularity for decades after this film and its accompanying booklet were made. Ruth Bader Ginsburg used to do it before starting her better known exercise routines, and Kate Middleton’s friend told a tabloid in 2012 that the duchess does it too. Be sure to catch the demonstrations at 9:15 of exercises that are difficult to figure out from the written instructions.

Before you hop out of your chair to do these exercises, it’s fair to warn you that the straight leg sit-ups in “Exercise 2” have fallen out of fashion because they compress the spine; crunches and planks are the modern equivalent. The Royal Canadian Air Force stopped using these exercises—Wikipedia says in 2008 but I can’t confirm—so proceed at your own risk.

Dame Helen Mirren’s body double for upcoming movie Eye in the Sky has been revealed as 30-year-old stunt performer Fleur van Eeden. That’s right, Helen Mirren’s body is in such great shape, a super fit woman 39 years her junior can stand-in.

So how does the actress stay in shape? ‘I do a thing that leads me into exercise,’ Helen has said.

‘It is the Royal Canadian Air Force exercise plan; it is 12 minutes and they have charts you follow. Each day, you have to do the exercises within the 12 minutes and until you can, you can’t move up .’


Created in the 1950s by physician Bill Orban, the Royal Canadian Air Force XBX (10 basic exercises) routine was created to help women (there’s a 5BX regime for men) work all muscle groups in a short space of time, no matter where they were.

The regime, an early version on the now popular HIIT (high intensity interval training) and Tabata workouts, originally came with a pamphlet explaining the whole process, including charts to track your progress.

Since the regime is now obsolete and the (long-winded) pamphlets are hard to get hold of, here’s a simplified version which you can use to get started. Just add more repetitions as you progress.


1. Toe touching/warm-up: 30 seconds
Stand straight, feet 12 inches apart with your arms raised straight above your head. Bend forwards to touch the floor between your feet, keeping your knees soft but not fully bent, then return to start position and repeat.

2. Knee raises: 30 seconds
Stand straight, hands by your sides and feet together. Raise your left knee as high as possible, grasp it with your hands, and pull your leg towards your body, then lower to floor. Repeat, alternating legs.

3. Lateral bending: 30 seconds
Stand straight, feet 12 inches apart with your arms at your sides. Keeping your back straight bend sideways from your waist, sliding your hand down your left leg as far as possible. Return to starting position and repeat, alternating sides.

4. Arm circling: 30 seconds each arm
Stand straight, feet 12 inches apart with your arms at your sides. Make large circles with one arm, half the time going forwards, and half the time going backwards. Then repeat on your other arm.

5. Partial sit-ups: 30 seconds
Lie on your back, legs straight and together, arms at your sides. Raise your head and shoulders from the floor until you can see your heels, then lower back down. Repeat movement as many times as possible in the time duration.

6. Chest and leg raising: 2 minutes
Lie face down, arms along your sides, hands under your thighs with palms pressing into you. Raise your head, shoulders and left leg (keep straight) as high as possible from the floor, then lower back down to start position Repeat the whole movement alternating legs.

7. Side leg raising: 1 minute
Lie on your side, legs straight, lower arm stretched out along the floor. Using your top arm for balance, raise your whole leg 18 to 24 inches off the floor, then lower to starting position. Repeat for 30 seconds, then switch sides and use other leg for 30 seconds.

8. Push-ups: 2 minutes
You can do this in a full push-up position or from your knees, whichever is most comfortable for you.

9. Leg lifting: 1 minute
Lie on your back, legs straight and together, arms at your sides with palms facing down. Raise your left leg until it is perpendicular to the floor, or as close to a 90 degree as possible. Lower, then repeat alternating legs.

10. Run and hop: 3 minutes
Run on the spot lifting your knees as high as possible, counting how many times your feet touch the floor. After fifty, hop off the ground using both feet, then begin the running again.

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