Ovar, July 24 2014. A distinguished visitors (DV) day is taking place today at Ovar airbase, Portugal, as part of the European helicopter exercise Hot Blade 2014 held 16-30 July. The EDA-supported event again delivered tangible results by allowing cooperative training and improving interoperability between the six participating Member States.
As of July 23, 163 sorties had been flown by the participants in support of Hot Blade 2014, amounting to a total of 345 flight hours. Missions have been designed specifically to maximize integration between national detachments and to enhance interoperability. The exercise addresses the ability to lead large-scale multinational missions, as well as fulfilling some national training objectives.
Organised as part of the European Defence Agency’s Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP), Hot Blade 2014 is hosted by the Portuguese Air Force for the third time since 2012. Ovar airbase, located 40 kilometers south of Porto, has been home of 25 helicopters and their crews since July 16, with a total of 3.000 military personnel directly involved in the event.
“One can only be impressed by the outstanding contribution of the Portuguese Armed Forces and the other participating Member States to today’s event. This once again underscores the wide interest shown for EDA’s training and exercise initiative,” stressed Rini Goos, Deputy Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency, during the DV Day.
Six European countries have brought their rotary-wing aircraft to Ovar: Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Observers from Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Brazil and NATO Special Operation Forces Headquarters (NSHQ) are also attending.
The aim of Hot Blade 2014 is to increase interoperability between participating Member States while at the same time allowing crews to train in a hot, high and dusty environment similar to the one they might encounter on the battlefield. Multiple sorties have been flown each day with increasingly complex tactical scenarios and missions, including large-scale Composite Air Operations led by each national detachment.
Hot Blade 2014 is the seventh exercise supported by EDA under the umbrella of the Helicopter Exercise Programme. The fact that these events are now integrated into the nations’ training syllabus is a testimony to their success and relevance for European operators. The Agency is conducting similar efforts in the field of tactical air transport and air-to-air refueling, respectively with the EATT (European Air Transport Training) and EART (European Air Refueling Training) series of exercises.
“The European Defence Agency is an output and capability-driven organization. We focus on supporting our Member States with concrete programs and projects”, Rini Goos added. “This is why, upon its restructuring, the Agency established a dedicated Education, Training & Exercise Unit.”
The European Defence Agency’s Helicopter Exercise Programme is part of the wider Helicopter Training Programme (HTP) initiative. This also includes the Helicopters Tactics Course (HTC), the Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC), the OELC (Operational English Language Course), the DisSim CCD (Distributed Simulation Capability Concept Demonstrator) and the Basic Helicopter Flying Training (BHFT) initiative.
The first EDA-supported multinational helicopter exercise took place in Gap (France) in March 2009. It has since been followed by six subsequent exercises of various scope and size, held in Belgium, Italy, Portugal and Spain. Future editions are expected to take place in Italy and Finland.
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