EDA Helicopter Exercise Programme Fire Blade 2022 kicks off in Hungary


Fire Blade 2022, the 16th helicopter exercise organised under the umbrella of the European Defence Agency’s Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP), kicked off on June 7 at Pápa airbase in Hungary. It will last until 24 June.

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EDA Helicopter Exercise Programme Fire Blade 2022 kicks off in Hungary 1 The Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP) is part of EDA’s wider helicopter portfolio aimed at providing the Member States with a joint European framework to develop, consolidate and share best practices to meet the challenges of flying helicopters in a modern operational environment. (Picture source: EDA)


A total of 25 air assets (20 helicopters + 5 aircraft) and some 550 military personnel from five countries – Austria, Belgium, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary – will participate in this exercise hosted by the Hungarian Defence Forces. In addition, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, France, Greece, Italy, Switzerland, and several international organisations will participate with exercise observers.

The exercise’s main focus will be on enhancing interoperability at the tactical level between helicopter units by using the Composite Air Operations (COMAO) concept in a joint, combined, realistic and challenging environment, in order to enable proper preparation for future international deployed operations.

Objectives


The objectives of Fire Blade 2022 are manifold, notably:
• enhance standardisation and improve tactical interoperability between helicopter units from the participating countries by using the COMAO concept and learning and practising common helicopter Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (TTPs) ;
• train and practise TTPs with and against fighter jets and electronic warfare threats;
• improve interoperability in training and operational tasks with ground forces involvement during day and night in a live and full-spectrum environment.

Participating crews will fly diverse day and night COMAO missions and execute, among others, Air Assault (AA), Special Operations Aviation (SOA), Combat Service Support (CSS), Close Air Support (CAS) including Urban CAS and Emergency CAS, Convoy/helicopter escorts, Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S), Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR), Personnel Recovery (PR), Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) and Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC). This will include live-firing drills.

It will also provide opportunities for attack operations, Special Operation Forces (SOF) training, and the possibility to train special procedures like fast rope and abseiling techniques, Special Patrol Insertion/Extraction (SPIE), pick-up and drop off procedures and air-to-surface live firing (helicopter door gunnery and sniper training). Finally, the European Air Group (EAG) will deliver a Forward Arming Refuelling Point (FARP) Force Integration Training.

Fire Blade 2022 will also provide opportunities to practice multinational and national formation and training with SOF units and to enhance crews’ skills in using the HEP Standard Operating Procedures (HEP SOP) and COMAO planning procedures in the conduct of flight planning and operations, also supported by the ATP-49.

Background

The Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP) is part of EDA’s wider helicopter portfolio aimed at providing the Member States with a joint European framework to develop, consolidate and share best practices to meet the challenges of flying helicopters in a modern operational environment. Other components of this portfolio are the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC) programme, the Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC) programme and the future Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC) which is currently being established at Sintra Airbase in Portugal.


EDA Helicopter Exercise Programme Fire Blade 2022 kicks off in Hungary 2 Fire Blade 2022 participants (Picture source: EDA)


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