Even though the Agency’s training & exercise portfolio is wide-ranging - from helicopter, fixed-wing airlift and RPAS operations to countering improvised explosive devices, personnel recovery, cyber defence and energy management – EDA’s ambition is not to become a permanent training provider. Once specific training gaps at European level are identified and assessed, the Agency helps to jump start and mature a collaborative activity up to the point it can be handed over to a group of Member States.
EDA’s training courses for helicopter aircrew got off the ground in 2009 to fill its Member States’ gap in tactical training and interoperability for operations in Afghanistan by promoting a common approach to helicopter activities in an environment that was new and challenging for many of them.
Currently, EDA is running three activities in this area: a helicopter exercise programme (HEP), a helicopter tactics course (HTC) and a helicopter tactics instructors’ course (HTIC). 15 European countries participate in one or more of them, including the annual multinational helicopter “Blade” exercise, a tactics symposium and several other tactics-related activities such as electronic warfare.
By 2023, the three helicopter training activities (HEP, HTC and HTIC) will be gradually moved to a new Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC) in Sintra, Portugal. The objective is to make this MHTC a permanent European centre of excellence for advanced helicopter training.
Under the umbrella of the European Air Transport Fleet Programme (EATF), a tactical airlift training programme was developed by EDA to improve interoperability and to offer advance tactical training opportunities with the objective of improving operational capability and availability of crews and aircraft. In June 2017, the training programme was moved to the new permanent European Tactical Airlift Centre (ETAC) in Zaragoza/Spain.
The five EDA Member States operating Spartan C-27 fixed-wing aircraft have also developed a cooperation platform within EDA offering opportunities to pool expertise, human and technological resources to share common capabilities and reduce costs. As a ‘community of users’, C-27J operators are encouraged to identify concrete means to harmonise operations and training (common tactics, techniques and procedures, harmonisation of pilot training, etc.) or through the EATF partnership by attending European Air Transport Training events.
Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS)
EDA, in cooperation with the European Air Group (EAG), has developed a training technology demonstrator which allows participating Member States to use a virtual private network to link their RPAS simulator centres together for collaborative training. This common training platform, called RPAS Training Technology Demonstrator (RTTD), serves as a catalyst for convergence of training approaches, as a tool for improved interoperability as well as a framework for structured sharing of lessons, improved procedures and for general capacity development.
Launched in 2007, EDA’s Counter-Improvised Explosive Devices (C-IED) programme has trained to date close to 1,000 students including C-IED specialists and ordnance personnel and prompted a swathe of related national and multi-nation research projects. These focus is on early warning, detection, exploitation and disposal capabilities, including Manual Neutralisation Techniques Courses and Exercises (MNTCE), not only for conventional IED threats but also those emanating from chemical, biological and radiological vectors as well.
The Agency supports Member States in improving their Armed Forces’ ability to recover staff deployed in military operations who have been trapped, isolated, captured and/or maltreated by adversary forces. One of EDA’s tools to support Member States in this critical domain are specific courses and trainings such as the Personnel Recovery Controller and Planner Courses (which ran from 2014-2019) or the Joint Personnel Recovery Education and Training Courses launched in April 2020. The Agency has also developed an e-learning tool for Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) and launched a Tactical Personnel Recovery Mission Simulator (TPRMS) project whose objective is to validate Member States’ training approaches by simulation.
EDA develops, pilots and delivers a variety of cyber security & defence courses from basic awareness over expert level to decision maker training. This is accompanied by exercises for comprehensive cyber strategic decision making and cyber defence planning for headquarters.
The Agency also works on enhancing Member States Armed Forces’ cyber defence situational awareness in CSDP operations and missions. The aim of the deployable Cyber Situation Awareness Package (CySAP) is to provide a common and standardised cyber defence planning and management platform, that allows Commanders and their staff to fulfil cyber defence related tasks in their day-to-day business.
EDA’s Cyber Ranges Federation project, launched in 2017, aims to allow its 11 participating Member States to knit together their respective national cyber-ranges into an integrated system for real-time training and exercises in simulated operational environments. A first live demonstration to test the cyber ranges federation took place in autumn 2019.
EDA also actively contributed to the creation of the Cyber education, training, exercise and evaluation (ETEE) platform at the European Security and Defence College (ESDC) the main mission of which is the coordination of cyber security and defence training and education for EU Member States.
In January 2017, the Agency launched a dedicated Defence Energy Managers’ Course (DEMC) to help Member States introduce modern and sustainable energy management concepts and systems in their Armed Forces. Several courses have been delivered since then.