Italian Call 2011: an ISAF-like scenario to train European crews in a "hot, dry and dusty environment" adopting common procedures
Italian Call 2011 is the name of a Multinational Helicopter Exercise held at Viterbo, Italy, from May 23 to Jun. 9, 2011, as part of the European Defense Agency’s Helicopter Training Program. It follows two past successful exercises: GAP 2009, held in France, and AZOR 2010, held in Spain.
The exercise had the purpose of practing missions and procedures that might be required on current and future operations with a special focus on multiship formations in multinational joint environment: Medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), QRF (Quick Reaction Force), SAR (Search And Rescue), troops insertion, combat air support to ground troops, Airmobile operations.
In particular, the aim of the Exercise was to train European crews and staff to operate “in a hot, dry and dusty environment adopting common procedures while operating as joint/combined Aviation Battalion in an exercise Crisis Response Operations (CRO)”. The ISAF Theater of Operations in Afghanistan was in fact used as Exercise Scenario.
Furthermore, Italian Call 2011 provided an important opportunity for helicopters operators to share information and best practices, to conduct multi-ship formations, NVG sorties, Target hand-over operations with Troops in Contact (TIC), escort and scout missions as well as live firing exercises.
The proposed scenario saw a multinational Aviation Battalion tasked to deploy in Area of Operations (AOO) under a Combined multinational command. Prior to the deployment phase multinational units were concentrated in Viterbo army airfield in order to achieve Full Operational Capability (FOC) and to integrate all assigned assets into the Task Force (TF). Aviation assets would be deployed in the Main Operating Base (MOB) in order to support ground forces.
Operating from a Forward Operating Base (FOB) the Aviation Battalion assets are called on a daily basis to operate to support ground units with fire suppression, Medical Evacuation and convoy escort missions. Local insurgents clans and several mixed terrorist elements are operating in the AOO with a wide array of threats: Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), Small Arms Fire (SAFIRE) and Rockets and Mortars (RAM) mainly attacking convoys. Regional policy was to set up further platoon-company size strong points along the main supply routes and around the main urbanized areas and to re-supply them by air and by ground as a daily routine activity. The Aviation Battalion was also tasked to escort ground convoys and to re-supply allied positions.
A total of 32 helicopters beloning to three classes were involved:
– CH-47, CH-53 (more than 10 tonnes payload);
– NH-90, EH-101 Merlin e Mi-17 (5-10 tonnes payload),
– A-109 & AB-412 (less than 5 tons payload).
Besides Italy, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany and Slovenia participated with aircrafts and crews, with Lithuania and Greece having observers for a total of around 350 military.
Here’s a list of the participating assets as provided by the special blog published and updated on a daily basis to provide information and news about the Exercise (note that the list was not updated since it contains only 29 helos).
4 x A 129
2 x CH47C
2 x NH90
1 x SH-3D
4 x AB-212
3 x AB212
3 x A109
4 x Mi 17
2 x Mi 24
2 x CH-53
2 x Cougar
The Exercise took place within the huge R53 (“Romeo 53”) restricted airspace, an area that “surrounds” the Viterbo airport and that is dedicated to the military training activity of Italian Army helicopters. All the participating units could get informed about ATC and planning procedures for IT CALL 2011 thank to the ENAC (Ente Nazionale Assistenza al Volo) “Self Briefing” platform which enables real time Web access to AIS, Meteo, AFTN and ATFM info via Internet.
More than 600 flying hours were flown during Italian Call 2011 with 50 daily sorties (on average) and a total consumption of 450.000 lts of fuel.
Thanks to the help of Col. Massimo Meola and Lt.Col. Giovanni Ramunno of the Italian Army, contributor Giovanni Maduli had the opportunity to report from Viterbo and to take the following interesting images of Exercise Italian Call 2011.