On 14-16 November 2017, the Royal Netherlands Air Force will host the 8th Helicopter Tactics Symposium in Rijen (South Holland). Organized under the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP), it will allow European helicopter crews to discuss and share experience in helicopter techniques, tactics and procedures.
Helicopter tactics instructors and experts from several European countries, as well as representatives of the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC), the Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC) and the Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC) will gather at this annual HEP event to exchange views, update best practices and learn about the new training possibilities available in the different HEP countries.
The first day, focused on ‘training’, will start with an explanation of the EDA helicopter programmes and a review of the Belgian Black Blade 16 and the Hungarian Fire Blade 17 exercises. Also on the agenda are a presentation of the Dutch helicopter aviation training system and a tour through the Gate 2 simulation facilities. On the second day, focused on ‘operations’, briefings and discussions will cover the latest tactical lessons learned from the helicopter operations in Libya, UK Urban Operations, Slovenian MEDEVAC operations, Czech helicopter door gunner pre deployment training, German introduction of Special Operation Forces helicopters and the procurement of heavy transport helicopters by Germany. On the third day, panel discussions, divided between attack and support helicopter operators, will be organised on the latest developments in training, techniques, tactics and procedures. This will also give the opportunity to European helicopters crewmembers to exchange views and discuss about simulation versus live flying. Based on the panel discussions’ outcome, new proposals to update the HEP Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), the capstone tactics manual for multinational helicopter operations, will be submitted.
Furthermore, briefings on the updates of the HEP SOP, the HEP, the HTC, the HTIC programmes and the ATP-49 will be given. The objectives of the upcoming HEP exercises will also be presented in detail, including Hot Blade 2018 (in Portugal), with the focus on helicopter COMAO missions in Hot, High and Dusty conditions with trooping, live firing and MEDEVAC flights.
This Symposium will be opened by Commodore Polet (Commander Defence Helicopter Command at Gilze-Rijen airbase) at the Gate 2 location in Rijen, where the participants will enjoy the atmosphere of a beautiful and effective simulation and symposium location. At the end of each day, the Netherlands, as hosting nation, will organise a visit to Gilze-Rijen airbase (Traditions Room and an operational helicopter squadron), a traditional Dutch diner and a guided tour of the Royal Military Academy.
The multinational dimension of the HEP is key to enhancing European helicopter capabilities and the Helicopter Tactics Symposium contributes to that by offering a platform for in-depth discussions and exchanges of tactical experience.