Some 50 helicopter tactics specialists and operators from 12 EDA Member States and Switzerland, and as well as representatives of EDA’s Helicopter Chief Instructor Team, the Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC), the NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ), the European Personnel Recovery Centre (EPRC) met from 8-11 November in Ostrava, Czech Republic, for the Agency’s 12th Helicopter Tactics Symposium, hosted by the Czech Air Force.
Organised under EDA’s Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP), the event allowed European helicopter crews to discuss and share expertise and best practices related to helicopter tactics, national and international training and operational experience.
A first part of the symposium was devoted to drawing tactical lessons from previous EDA helicopter training activities, such as exercise “Hot Blade 21” held last June at Beja Air Base in Portugal, and EDA’s recent 7th Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC). Next year’s “Fire Blade” exercise, to be held in Hungary in June 2022 with a focus on Composite Air Operations (COMAO) and national training required by the participating Member States, was also discussed.
A second part of the exercise was centered on enhancing the common knowledge about other organisations and of the tactical procedures used in other partner countries. Here a wide range of topics were addressed, such as joint all domain operations, the NSHQ’s roles and responsibilities, the EPRC and personnel recovery, NATO’s Special Operation Air Task Units (SOATU) project, the German Air Force special forces H145M helicopters, evasion eraining against fighters, attack helicopter tactics and experiences, landing zone operations and evasion maneuvers against ground based air defence threats.
Switzerland, as a new HEP Member State, participated in its first HEP activity and briefed about their Air Force helicopter organisation and missions. MEDEVAC support using rotary wing assets was also addressed, including EDA´s AIR MEDEVAC project which is focused on support to operations.
A major milestone of this symposium was the introduction, by EDA’s Chief Instructor Team, of the new EDA HEP Standard Operating Procedures (HEP SOP) V5.0 following its formal release. This document is from now on the basis for all future EDA helicopter trainings, ensuring standardisation and fostering interoperability among European helicopter operators and units.