During the EDA Steering Board meeting held on 19 November 2012, ministers of defence of twelve Member States signed the Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP) Program Arrangement (PA). This act formally transitioned the HEP to a Category B programme, where twelve nations commit their crews and helicopters to a ten-year programme, a concrete indication that training together is an integral part of enhancing European capability and interoperability.
Originally part of the Helicopter Training Programme (HTP) concept, approved at the Ministerial Steering Board in November 2009, the HEP aims to provide a framework to Member States to allow them to develop, consolidate and share best practices to meet the challenges of flying helicopters in the modern operational environment, helping to mitigate the risks and successfully complete their mission. The HEP is built on three main pillars:
Five exercises have so far been delivered under the umbrella of the EDA. These exercises met the urgent training requirements for the participating Member States (pMS) and greatly enhanced the helicopter capability available. To date, 14 pMS have actively taken part with another three sending observers. A total of 123 helicopters, 794 aircrew nearly 5000 support personnel have deployed to the exercises which were held in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Belgium.
Beside the exercises, an integral part of the HEP is the Helicopter Tactics Symposium which has now been held three times in Luxembourg. It is designed to allow our helicopter crews to share experiences, gain knowledge of the current threats they face and to discuss the tactics, techniques and procedures.
3. Core Planning Team (CPT)
In order to ensure coherence and continuity of the programme, a CPT of two personnel has been appointed. Sharing the office with the EDA Helicopter Programme Officers, together they form the EDA helicopter team within Capabilities Directorate. The CPT is managed through the EDA Helicopter Project Manager, ensuring that the knowledge and experience gained so far transitions into this programme. The CPT will be tasked by the Management Committee formed by the representatives of the contributing Member States (cMS). The main tasks are to assist host nations in the delivery of exercises and take any lessons identified and integrate them into future exercises. Additionally, the team will also be able to give training advice to cMS to assist with the national training task as required.
- An overview of the last helicopter exercise "Green Blade" in Belgium is available on Storify.
- Pictures from Green Blade are available on Flickr.
- Videos from helicopter exercises in Belgium and Portugal are available on YouTube.