Tag Archives: NATO

These are the first images of the Italian Typhoons providing NATO air defense capability to Iceland

As explained on a previous post, on Jun. 11 (a day after it was originally planned), Italian Eurofighter with 4°, 36° and 37° Stormo (Wings)  deployed to Keflavik Airbase, Iceland to provide a NATO air defense capability to the Northern European country that does not operate autonomous airspace surveillance aircraft.

“Operation Icy Skies” includes maintenance and support personnel as well as air defence controllers from GRCDA (Air Surveillance Squadron), 21st and 22nd Radar Squadron, respectively, based in Poggio Renatico (Ferrara), Poggio Ballone (Grosseto)  e Licola (Naples), that provide reporting and control services and airspace surveillance services within the Iceland AOR (area of responsability).

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The Italian involvement in Iceland’s air defense is a clear example of the new NATO strategic concept that encourages asset and cost sharing, as well as capability pooling.

Two KC-767A aerial tankers (MM62227 and MM62228) ferried the Italian Typhoons to Iceland on 11 June, in two flights; both departed the following day.

The following images were taken by Eggert Norðdahl at Keflavik, as the Typhoons (F-2000A according to the Italian Mission Design Series) performed the first orientation and dedicated training sorties required for the subsequent NATO validation of the Italian Air Force assets.

F-2000 ground

Image credit: Eggert Norðdahl

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Large “RARÓG-13” exercise ends in Poland

As website of the 32 Air Base of Polish Air Force reports, Raróg 2013 exercise ended two days ago.

The large scale exercise of the Polish Air Force’s 2nd Tactical Aviation Wing was named after a Saker Falcon.

The main purpose for conducting  Raróg was to certify that the Polish Air Force can be a part of NATO and EU response forces. The exercise was a part of FORCEVAL procedure (evaluating whether the forces are liable to be relocated to a different operational theater than their homebase). It was conducted in the period between Jun. 3 and 7.

Throughout the week the skill of coordinating actions on the level of the Air Force and other armed forces that perform different duties on every day basis was the main focus. The aim was to simulate a conflict with a highest possible fidelity.

The core part of exercise included aviation combat sorties, such as Air-to-Air, Air-to-Ground; DCA/Defensive Counter Air, or even CAS/Close Air Support. Another field of improvement was training of the TAOR (Tactical Area of Responsibility) procedures. What is more, IT systems were tested for security as well as combat readiness of the aircraft in a given situation.

Finally the ICCS (Individual Common Core Skills) were the last subject of testing.

Photo Credit: Adam ROIK/DOSZ COMBAT CAMERA

The exercise took place in Tactical Area of Operations in the 32. Air Base and in the airspace over the Nadarzyce Range. It was directed by Polish Air Force commander, Brig. Gen. Włodzimierz Usarek and saw the participation of the Polish MiG-29s, Su-22s and CASA C-295, along with the F-16s from 31. Air Base.

The drills were most probably a response to the Russian/Ukrainian activity beyond the Poland’s eastern border. Earlier this year, Steadfast Jazz-13 was another exercise takin place over the Polish territory.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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“German decision to scrap Euro Hawk drone purchase will not affect AGS program” NATO officials say

According to NATO, the  AGS (Alliance Ground Surveillance), a project that is based on high-altitude long range UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems), a main operating base and several command and control stations to monitor “what’s happening on the ground, at long range, over periods of time, around the clock, in any weather”, will not end due to the German withdrawal from the Eurohawk programme.

As TheAviationist reported earlier, the withdrawal of Germany is caused by extremely high cost of introducing the drones into the European airspace environment. 

NATO officials claim that Block 40 Global Hawk drones are going to be the main assets in the AGS. They are to operate from Sigonella airbase in Sicily by 2017.

The cooperative defense project involves 13 nations: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Norway, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and the United States.

Poland joined later, but it already opted out.

The main reason for Germany to opt out was the cost.

Even if the AGS goal goes beyond reconnaisance (as it will support SAR activities as well), the recently increased military activity beyond the Poland’s eastern border may be the real reason for introducing the drones into the European airspace.

Nevertheless, the problem does not necessarily stem from the budget, but from the European legal background, with its strict provisions when it comes to the air-traffic.

It would be very hard to introduce an autonomous airframe, such as Global Hawk into this environment; the consequent risk seems to restrain Germany from being an active part of the AGS.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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Russia’s NATO to have its own Air Force

Taking into account the latest crisis events that include the Steadfast Jazz Exercise in Poland and the Zapad 2013 event, as well as simulated attack on Sweden, it is interesting that the Russian NATO counterpart, CSTO, is going to have own air force, as it was revealed by Russian documents last month.

Collective Security Treaty Organization is an intergovernmental military alliance between Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan.

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Image credit: Igor Dvurekov/Wiki

The eventual Collective Air Force (CAF) would be equipped with combat helicopters (provided by Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan) to conduct CAS (Close Air Support) missions, and cargo planes, to move CSTO forces supporting the alliance’s operations.

The CAF would have in Kant airport, in Kyrgyzstan, where a Russian Air Force contingent is already deployed, its main operating base.

However, the information may not be totally viable, as the budget of CSTO is tight.

According to defence24.pl analyst, Piotr Maciążek, two upcoming events could led to the creation of such air component.

First, NATO is preparing to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan, leaving the country unstable. The Russians have already claimed that they are going to send some ‘peacekeepers’ to the ex-Taliban-ruled country.

Second, the succession in Uzbekistan, which has a great chance of destabilizing the region.

Provided it can be funded by the participating countries, each providing the required assets, with its own Air Force, CSTO would have the capability to intervene in the region should the need to police it arise.

Written with David Cenciotti

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Germany to end its High Altitude Long Endurance Eurohawk drone programme

The Germans will probably cancel the Eurohawk drones programme, said Reuters agency today.

The reason for such course of events is not the cost of the drones itself, but thes cost of adapting the drones to the European airspace standards which are set by European Aviation Safety Agency.

EuroHawk_first_flight

Image Credit: Haditechnikai Kerekasztal

The bill itself is going to be up to 600-700 million euros. And it is not certain whether that would be the final aggregate price of introducing the Euro Hawk system into service.

Currently, the Germans have only one Global Hawk drone and are planning to buy 4 more. The budget allocated to the procurement of the drones is about 1,2 billion Euro.

Nevertheless, that information would be meaningless in the light of the budget cuts that happen all over the world due to the global economic crisis. However, the NATO European strategy assumes that the drones would be used to patrol the areas of the Eastern end of NATO territorries, as TheAviationist analysed it earlier this year. 

Based on Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4B Block 20 Global Hawk, Eurohawk was meant to be used as an ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) platform by the German armed forces.

Taking into account the fact that the Germans would supposedly not buy the above-mentioned drones, the whole concept of AGS (Alliance Ground Surveilance) is not as certain as it was earlier.

Jacek Siminski for TheAviationist

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