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France Hosted International Air-Land-Integration Exercise


Exercise Serpentex 2016, a French Air Force led International Forward Air Controller (FAC) exercise has wrapped up at the French Ventiseri-Solenzara air base on the island of Corsica.

The tactical live-fly exercise, which took place from March 7 to 25,  involved more than 40 aircraft and approximately 1,000 soldiers from France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States including FACs from 12 countries.

Serpentex utilizes tactics, techniques and procedures also used in recent real-world operations as well as the exploitation of modern and novel technologies such as Digitally Aided Close Air Support (CAS) and satellite-supported systems. A British Air Support Operations Centre reinforced by national French liaison officers and airspace management assets and the integration of legal operational aspects such as rules of engagement and national caveats add to the complexity and realism of the exercise.

This exercise was first conducted in 2007 and prepared FAC personnel for operational deployments in-theatre. The goal of Serpentex is to train fighter aircraft and FACs in close air support missions to include dynamic targeting. The training is set in a complex tactical environment and involves support from helicopters, transport aircraft, an E-3D plane and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) platforms. An infantry company, surface-to-air assets and Special Forces from the Army ensure the training is also a joint effort.

The aircraft involved in Serpentex 16 included from France Rafale, Mirage 2000-5 and Mirage 2000N fighters, a C-160 Transall and a Casa CN 235 transport aircraft, a Harfang Remotely Piloted Aerial System, an Airborne Warning and Control System E-3F plane, Fennec helicopters as well as United States Air Force B-52 strategic bombers, Belgian F-16, Spanish F-18, Italian AMX and British BAE Hawk fighter jets, Italian KC-767 tanker aircraft, and a German Learjet.

Some impression from Serpentex can be found here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/133169573@N03/albums/72157664003104804

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