Tactical Leadership Course FC 20-1 at Albacete Air Base

Preflight completed for this Italian Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon now waiting for starting up the engines. (All images: Author)

We have been to Albacete, in Spain, to report about the first Flying Course of 2020.

Half way between the eastern coast of Spain on the Mediterranean Sea and Madrid, Albacete is the hometown of the Base Aérea de Los Llanos, where the local Ala 14 of the Spanish Air Force and the Tactical Leadership Programme courses are headquartered.

Born as a set of seminars back in 1978, the program evolved in order to include flying courses and to train pilots to tactical leadership in conducting multinational operations. Since the early years, the TLP was part of the NATO structure, until summer 2009 when a memorandum of understanding still maintaining a direct link with NATO positioned the program under the direct control of the 10 TLP participating countries (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, UK, and USA).

During the years, TLP’s HQ moved across Germany, Belgium and then ended up to Spain in Albacete, where the good weather conditions and the new dedicated structure had the growth potential expected by a training center that promised to be a reference in the allies’ landscape.

A number of academic courses and four flying courses that includes COMAO, OPFOR, RMC, and more are held there every year, in order to allow military pilots of the participating nations to become the flight leaders of tomorrow.

External checks completed and pilot boarding AdlA Mirage 2000.

The 2020-1 flying course was held between Feb. 10 and 28. Sharing training experiences creates mutual personal and cultural knowledge between international pilots developing combined team collaboration and enhancing tactical and leadership skills. Real in flight analysis, planning, execution and evaluation of aerial missions along with CSAR training create an international community based upon confidence and appreciation between its member.
Moreover, the full awareness of the presence of the various countries air fleets drives the participants and the eyewitness to experience the real strength of TLP.

Standing out among the others were the EF-18M jets from Ala 15 and Ala 12 squadrons based at Zaragoza and Torrejón AB, the Italian Air Force Typhoons from the 4° Stormo (Wing) from Grosseto AB.

The TLP main parking, in foreground F-18 from Ala 12 of Ejercito de l’Aire.

The Hellenic Air Force took part with 4x F-16C Block 52, from Soúda AB 115 PM wing’s 340 “Fox” and 343 “Star” squadrons. German Air force joined TLP with 6x Eurofighter Typhoon from TLG 31 of Nörvenich AB and TLG 74 of Neuburg AB. The Armée de l’Air contributed to the course with two Mirage 2000s (EC 02.005 Ile de France) from Orange AB, and 9x Rafale jets from Mont de Marsan BA118 and Saint Dizier BA113.

Hellenic Air Force F-16C Block 52 from Soúda AB 343 “Star” squadron turning into the TLP parking.
AdlA Rafale B from EC 01.004 Gascogne after the training sortie.

The Royal Air Force deployed an E-3D Sentry for AWACS support, motorized with CFM-56 engines. The German Airbus controlled company GFD provided electronic warfare support with one of their Learjet 36A (D-CGFF).

First in last out, the Royal Air Force E-3D Sentry heading to the parking at the end of the training day.

In addition, TLP provide CSAR and RMC courses, to which the Italian Air Force took part with 2x HH-139A helicopters from the 82° CSAR Center of Trapani and 85° Centro CSAR from Pratica di Mare, and the Armée de l’Air with 2x EC725 Caracals.

Good luck to the pilots joining the next courses at TLP.