Hungary hosted the sixth Helicopter Tactics Symposium of the European Defence Agency (EDA) Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP). Held in Budapest on 7-9 December 2015, the event continues to be a major venue for European helicopter crews to discuss and share experience in helicopter tactical procedures.
Over sixty helicopter tactics instructors and experts coming from ten countries, as well as representatives of the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC), Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC), Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC), and NATO Special Operations Headquarters (NSHQ), gathered at this annual HEP event to bring the common tactical knowledge base up-to-date.
Briefings and discussions covered the latest tactical lessons from the helicopter operations in Iraq, Syria, Mali and Afghanistan. The panel discussions, divided between attack and support helicopter operators and planners, brought an insight to the latest developments in night vision goggles (NVG) training, Electronic Warfare (EW), tactics used to land on different types of landing zones, use of sensors and technologies applied in Degraded Visual Environment (DVE) and helicopter self-defence aids used by the Member States. Reflecting on several comments coming out of discussions, new proposals to update the HEP Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), the capstone tactics manual for multinational helicopter operations, were submitted.
The aims and objectives of the upcoming HEP exercises were briefed in detail, including Cold Blade 2016 (Finland, environmental training in extreme conditions), Black Blade 2016 (Belgium, Special Operations Forces exercise) and Fire Blade 2017 (Hungary, live-fire, urban operations).
The HEP Member States fully realise that the multinational dimension is key to the development of the helicopter capabilities of European countries. Therefore, the well-established HEP community calls for a wider extension of proven exchanges of operational experience, such as the ones conducted during the Helicopter Tactics Symposiums.