The European Defence Agency’s 8th Helicopter Tactics Instructors Course (HTIC), which ran over seven weeks at Airbase No1 in Sintra (Portugal) and Pápa Air Base in Hungary, was successfully completed.
The course began on 29th of August with a two-week classroom phase, followed by a two-week simulator phase at Airbase No1 in Sintra. After a week of recovery and transfer of aircrafts a three-week deployment to the Pápa Air Base in Hungary where participants engaged in live flying exercises. Supported by personnel from the Hungarian Defence Forces and Pápa Air Base, the flying phase included a complex operational scenario employing dissimilar formation flying, evasion training against a range of airborne threats, Electronic Warfare (EW) against both ground-based and airborne systems and a variety of additional tasks such as Helicopter Assault, Convoy Escort and Mutual Support. The course was led by the EDA HTIC Chief Instructor Team and participated by Austrian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Portuguese, and Swedish crews flying on four different types of helicopters: UH-60, CH-47, H145M and Mi-171.
The Staff Instructors came from Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, and Sweden, together with some contracted support provided by Inzpire Ltd. Also, fixed wing support was provided by units of the Czech Alca Jets and the Hungarians Gripens, acting mainly as threats during the helicopter training. In addition, EW assets and personnel were provided by Austria and Hungary.
In total, 12 Bronze, 8 Silver and 5 Gold qualifications were awarded ensuring an important contribution to the international cadre of Helicopter Tactics Instructors (HTI).
The Helicopter Tactics Instructors Course (HTIC) is an advanced helicopter training activity aimed at creating helicopter tactics instructors which are enable train nationally standardised tactics procedures to foster interoperability of the European helicopter units, their level of preparation, and to facilitate readiness for future deployments. This is done independently of the type of helicopter used. It is delivered since 2013 in UK and Sweden. From the year 2021, its location changed to Airbase No1 in Sintra (Portugal), where the ground and simulator phase of the course is executed, and to Pápa Air Base (Hungary), where the flying phase is delivered.
HTIC provides aircrew from participating nations with the skills and knowledge to teach advanced tactics to front-line aircrews from within their own national organisations and to assist in delivering the EDA’s Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP), the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC) and future HTIC. Successful graduates from the course are awarded a qualification recognised by other Member States. HTIC development courses run over two years: in the first year, prospective instructors refine their own knowledge of advanced helicopter tactics to the maximum degree. In the second year, when the formal HTI qualification is achieved, the emphasis shifts to develop the participants’ ability to teach those tactics. In turn, Instructors who have demonstrated excellent abilities in delivering the course will be individually selected to come back a third time and teach alongside the existing instructional staff to finally achieve their Gold instructor qualification to become supervising instructors for future HTIC and/or components of the HTIC Chief Instructor Team.
The three main elements of HTIC include Evasion Training, Electronic Warfare, and advanced Operations. They are initially taught as stand-alone skills before being brought together in a complex, non-permissive environment in the framework of the planning and execution of Composite Air Operations (COMAO).
It should be noted that although the main focus of the course is projected in the helicopter crews, all participants (e.g., jets, EW systems operators, ground troops, supporting personal) also obtain an important training benefit.