After two intense months of training, the 4th EDA Helicopter Tactics Instructors Course (HTIC), which had kicked off mid-August at RAF Linton-on-Ouse in the North of England, was officially completed on 9 October at Vidsel Airbase in Northern Sweden.
Involving helicopters and aircrew from Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom and Austria, the course was branded by experienced participants as the ‘most challenging yet’ in terms of adverse weather conditions, aircraft unserviceability and a particularly intense flying programme. Ten instructors managed to graduate with a Silver and eight with a Bronze Level; they are now fully ready and prepared to complete the course in 2017.
After threat briefs and lectures from Air Battle Space Management, the course started with a simulation phase covering all aspects of tactical formation, evasion training and electronic warfare. It culminated in a complex simulated sortie requiring detailed planning and the ability to complete a task in a hostile and contested environment. All trainees reached the required standard that allowed them to move on to the next level: the live flying phase which took place in the Vidsel Test range in Northern Sweden.
During that live flying training in Sweden, HTIC staff was complemented by operations & logistics staff from the Swedish Air Force as well as from the UK. Having such a strong team proved vital in the two weeks that followed when course participants had to cope with very poor weather conditions, unserviceable aircraft and sick aircrew. Despite the flying programme changing constantly, the high degree of flexibility provided by the team made it possible that sorties were still manageable and successfully achieved under testing conditions.
When the weather started to improve, participants had to conduct two sorties every day to make up the delay caused by the earlier bad weather. Most sorties were completed to a satisfactory level meaning that all participants were allowed to move ahead to the Composite Air Operations (COMAO) phase which all completed successfully.