The brown and green terrain of Hawke's Bay Airport off Watchman Rd has begun to get browner and greener over the past few days as advance crews have been setting up a military camp which the Air Force will shift into this weekend.

The camp will house about 150 air force flight and ground crews, the Army as well as a small contingent of French Air Force personnel who will be taking part in Exercise Skytrain which starts on Monday and runs through until January 29.

It is the first time in nine years the exercise has been staged in Hawke's Bay and it will see the comings and goings of two Whenuapai-based Hercules C130 aircraft from 40 Squadron.

A Casa CN-235 transport aircraft from the French Air Force base in New Caledonia will also be seen over the region's skies.


There will be night exercises as well as low-level runs over rural areas where parachute drops of cargo will be carried out.

Group Captain Tim Walshe said the intensive exercise was aimed at advancing tactical skills and gave pilots the opportunity to work out of a military base situation.

The Air Force will be hosting an open day on January 23 for the public to get a close-up look at the aircraft.

Two of the Air Force's new NH90 helicopters from Ohakea are also likely to be on the ground for the open day.

Group Captain Walshe said there would be up to six operational flights a day operating out of the airport and they would be worked around commercial flights to prevent disruptions.