Exercise FIRE BLADE 2017 (FB17) will take place at Papa Airbase in Hungary from 1-12 May 2017 with around 500 personnel and 16 aircraft taking part from 5 Member States. This is the 11th Helicopter exercise to be conducted under the umbrella of EDA’s Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP).
The European Defence Agency continues to offer an operationally realistic framework for Member States to develop, consolidate and share best practice in advanced helicopter operations. The conflict in Afghanistan brought several contributing Member States (cMS) together to jointly overcome reduced availability of combat ready crews and platforms. Several common factors were identified: a lack of effective crew training, sub-optimal technical equipment and the challenges of logistic support to remote deployed operations. The HEP successfully addressed the training need and continues to offer a unique vehicle for improved helicopter capability development. Exercise FIRE BLADE will provide an operationally demanding environment for participating Member States to train together and improve tactics and interoperability, including the coordination and integration of Joint Terminal Air Controllers (JTAC’s) into live fire scenarios.
Exercise FIRE BLADE 2017
FIRE BLADE will not only provide crews with the opportunity for live weapon engagement, it will also allow them to conduct complex air operations in a realistic and challenging environment. A total of 14 helicopters from Austria, Belgium, Germany, Hungary and Slovenia, as well as two fixed wing aircraft from Hungary will take part.
FIRE BLADE will deliver tactical training, over the two week period, offering participants a unique opportunity to plan and execute Composite Air Operation (COMAO) missions within a joint and combined framework. Trained Helicopter Tactics Instructors trained under EDA’s Helicopter Tactics Instructors Course (HTIC) will mentor the multinational crews in the preparation and execution of theses challenging COMAO missions. The mentor team for FIRE BLADE will include 5 instructors from Austria, Germany, Sweden and the UK.
EDA’s Director for Cooperation Planning and Support, Roland van Reybroeck, highlighted some of the key benefits of the exercise: “FIRE BLADE marks another major milestone in EDA’s Helicopter Exercise Programme and will offer a very demanding period of training for the operational crews. Since its launch, the HEP has developed into one of the most intensive formats for joint European helicopter training. The realistic settings and complex missions are particularly challenging and the crews and aircraft will be stretched to their limits. I would especially like to thank Hungary for hosting the exercise for the first time and congratulate them on becoming the 7th Member State to do so.”
The overall aim of the HEP is to enhance interoperability at tactical level between helicopter units by using the COMAO concept in a combined, joint, realistic and challenging environment and to teach and learn helicopter Techniques, Tactics and Procedures (TTPs). During FB17 the units will fly a diverse set of day and night training missions, with a focus on live firing operations. FB17 is a real-world example of what can be achieved through European defence cooperation.
Further updates on FB17 can also be found on Twitter using #FIREBLADE2017.
EDA Helicopter Exercises In Numbers
Between 2009 and 2017 : 229 helicopters, 1.590 aircrew members and almost 13.500 technical and logistics personnel, as well as infantry and special forces, from 19 Member States have deployed to the EDA exercises which were held in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Finland and Belgium.
DVD exercise FIRE BLADE 2017
A Distinguished Visitors Day (DVD) will be held on May 11th, which senior officials of the participating Member States will attend. This FIRE BLADE DVD will be combined with a Media day with international media visiting the airbase.
Future HEP Event
The next HEP event will be Exercise HOT BLADE, which will be held in June 2018 at Ovar Airbase in Portugal.
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