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.