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.