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19 décembre 2015 6 19 /12 /décembre /2015 12:50
Helicopter Tactical Procedures on the agenda


Budapest - 17 December, 2015 European Defence Agency


Hungary hosted the sixth Helicopter Tactics Symposium of the European Defence Agency (EDA) Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP). Held in Budapest on 7-9 December 2015, the event continues to be a major venue for European helicopter crews to discuss and share experience in helicopter tactical procedures. 


Over sixty helicopter tactics instructors and experts coming from ten countries, as well as representatives of the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC), Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC), Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC), and NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ), gathered at this annual HEP event to bring the common tactical knowledge base up-to-date.

Briefings and discussions covered the latest tactical lessons from the helicopter operations in Iraq, Syria, Mali and Afghanistan. The panel discussions, divided between attack and support helicopter operators and planners, brought an insight to the latest developments in night vision goggles (NVG) training, Electronic Warfare (EW), tactics used to land on different types of landing zones, use of sensors and technologies applied in Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) and helicopter self-defence aids used by the Member States. Reflecting on several comments coming out of discussions, new proposals to update the HEP Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), the capstone tactics manual for multinational helicopter operations, were submitted.

The aims and objectives of the upcoming HEP exercises were briefed in detail, including Cold Blade 2016 (Finland, environmental training in extreme conditions), Black Blade 2016 (Belgium, Special Operations Forces exercise) and Fire Blade 2017 (Hungary, live-fire, urban operations).

The HEP Member States fully realise that the multinational dimension is key to the development of the helicopter capabilities of European countries. Therefore, the well-established HEP community calls for a wider extension of proven exchanges of operational experience, such as the ones conducted during the Helicopter Tactics Symposiums. 


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24 juillet 2015 5 24 /07 /juillet /2015 11:50
photo EDA

photo EDA

Viterbo, Italy - 07 July, 2015 by EU Defence Agency

The latest flying event organised as part of the Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP) was successfully conducted from 22 June to 3 July in Viterbo, Italy. More than 1000 personnel and 30 helicopters from seven countries attended this multinational training, the largest of its kind organised in Europe this year.


Over the course of Italian Blade 2015, 201 missions and 445 sorties were flown by the participants, accounting for a total of 618 flight hours. Missions of increasing complexity were conducted, with scenarios including air assault, close air support, combat search & rescue or medical evacuation.

 “Italy has provided great support to this year’s HEP exercise as host nation”, Andrew Gray, EDA Helicopter Programme Manager, underlines. “Next year the HEP will move to Finland for exercise Cold Blade, which will provide participants with a totally different yet very relevant training environment”, he adds.

To date, more than 350 crews and 200 helicopters have taken part in EDA-developed HEP exercises. The overall HEP project was endorsed at a Ministerial Steering Board in November 2009, and a formal programme arrangement was signed in November 2012 by 13 contributing Member States: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden, the United Kingdom; as well as Norway.


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25 juin 2015 4 25 /06 /juin /2015 11:50
Italy hosts multinational helicopter exercise

Viterbo, Italy - 23 June, 2015 by European Defence Agency

More than 30 helicopters and 1000 military personnel have gathered 80 kilometers north of Rome for Italian Blade 2015, this year’s largest military rotary-wing exercise in Europe. Crews from seven different countries have started training together yesterday using joint procedures and tactics during missions of increasing complexity.

After three successful live-flying events hosted by Portugal from 2012 to 2014, the EDA-developed Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP) has moved to Italy this year. More than 1000 military personnel and 30 helicopters coming from seven nations are taking part in Italian Blade 2015. The exercise is delivered by the Italian Army Aviation in Viterbo, about 80 km north of Rome. 
During two weeks, helicopter crews as well as ground forces will take part in joint missions during which efforts will be made to maximise interoperability between all assets involved. They will fly and operate in conditions likely to be faced in future operations, while promoting cooperation in helicopter training through the integration of multinational elements in the air and on the ground.

Mentor team

A mentor team of six instructors from Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom will support multinational crews in the preparation and execution of complex missions. The team will be managed by an EDA Chief Instructor, serving officer of the UK Royal Air Force, who will ensure consistency of the output as well as proper exchange of lessons learned during other EDA-organised training events, namely the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC) and the Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC), which also contribute to increasing the overall availability of European military helicopters.

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18 juin 2015 4 18 /06 /juin /2015 16:50
One week to go until Italian Blade 2015


Viterbo - 15 June, 2015 European Defence Agency


Italian Blade 2015, the 8th training event organised under the framework of the European Defence Agency’s Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP), will start on 22 June in Viterbo, Italy. Gathering about 40 helicopters from seven different countries, it will be one of the largest exercises organised since the establishment of the HEP.


Aircraft from Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Slovenia will attend this year’s exercise. The event will be hosted by the Italian Army Aviation (Aviazione dell'Esercito) in Viterbo airbase, about 80 km north of Rome. In total, more than 1000 military personnel are expected to take part in the event which will run from 22 June to 3 July.

As with previous HEP live-flying exercises, Italian Blade’s main objectives will be to train European helicopter crews in conditions likely to be faced in possible future operations, while promoting cooperation in helicopters training and developing joint interoperability between multinational elements, both in the air and on the ground. A particular focus will be given to the integration of ground forces into the exercise’s scenarios so as to develop common procedures and build trust between flying crews and ground personnel from different nations.

The HEP exercises are only one of multiple projects undertaken by the European Defence Agency to increase the overall availability of European military helicopters, with other initiatives such as the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC) or the Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC) now ongoing. These efforts demonstrate that at very low-cost, quick operational benefits can be yielded to ensure success on tomorrow’s battlefields.


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16 juillet 2014 3 16 /07 /juillet /2014 10:50
Exercise Hot Blade 2014 kicks off in Portugal


16.07.2014 European Defence Agency

For the third year in a row, Portugal is hosting the Hot Blade helicopter exercise in Ovar airbase, near Porto. Supported by the European Defence Agency, this event is attended by 25 helicopters and about 3.000 military personnel for two weeks of intense cooperative training between the six participating Member States.


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, is now home of 25 helicopters and their crews for the two weeks of the exercise, with a total of 3.000 military personnel directly involved in the event.

Six European countries have brought their rotary-wing aircraft to Ovar for the event: Austria, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and the United Kingdom. Observers from Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Brazil and NATO Special Operation Forces Headquarters (NSHQ) will also attend.

Training together.

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 will be flown each day with increasingly complex tactical scenarios and missions, ranging from special operations aviation to close air support or medical evacuation.

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’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. These projects are managed by EDA’s Cooperation, Planning & Support Directorate, in which a new dedicated Education & Training unit has recently been established.

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.


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5 février 2014 3 05 /02 /février /2014 17:50
Exercise “Hot Blade 14” in Extensive Preparation


Ovar, Portugal - 24 January, 2014 European Defence Agency


During the second half of July 2014, the Ovar Air Base in northern Portugal will host the third sequel of the successful series of Hot Blade exercises, powered by the Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP).


The Main Planning Conference (15-17 January in Ovar) proved an increased interest in participation in Hot Blade 14 by the HEP member states.  A total of 30 helicopters, four fast jets, three transport aircraft and one Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance platform have been committed by Austria, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, Portugal, Sweden and United Kingdom. Moreover, beside the participation of Portuguese ground forces, which have supported the  last two Hot Blade exercises, Netherlands, Germany and United Kingdom are intending to send more than 450 troops to be part of the joint missions. Due to such a high number of ground troops participating, an integrated mission planning process will be introduced for the first time to enable seamless coordination and integration of the ground forces into the individual scenarios for the benefit of common exercise success.

As in the last year, the crews will be supervised and supported by the experienced mentors – instructors/graduates from the European Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course, which will be executed in March and May this year for the second time. In total the several hundred sorties and almost 1000 flying hours planned, promise a continuation of the unique multinational helicopter training opportunity provided by the Helicopter Exercise Programme.


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