Lielvarde, Latvia – The advance party of NATO's deployable air surveillance and control unit, the DARS (1), arrived in Latvia on board a Royal Air Force A400M transport aircraft for their deployment exercise Ramstein Dust-II 17.
In the evening of August 28, several media and Lielvarde Air Base staff were waiting for the aircraft that would unload fifteen NATO staff and equipment for the exercise. Latvian Air Force staff helped the RAF loadmasters with removing the cargo from the huge turboprop plane.
Both the RAF pilot, Flight Lieutenant Ian Brosch, and the NATO detachment commander, Norwegian Air Force Major Haakon Steingrimssen, were interviewed during the unloading. While Brosch highlighted the capabilities of the cargo aircraft that took off at Aviano Air Base, Italy, Steingrimssen elaborated on the plan for NATO's deployable air surveillance and control unit over the coming weeks.
The NATO team is now preparing to receive the main body of exercise participants, who left their home garrison at Poggio Renatico in northern Italy by road convoy and will arrive at Lievarde around September 1. Together they will build the exercise facilities for the DARS, which will integrate into the Baltic air defence system and act as an additional control and reporting centre for Combined Air Operations Centre Uedem, Germany.
The goal of the routine tactical-level exercise is to assess the unit's capability to deploy, bed-down and operate its air control and surveillance capability at a remote site, in this case some 2,500 kms away from the home garrison.
This year's second Ramstein Dust exercise also includes the deployment of Air Integration Elements to the NATO's enhanced Forward Presence battlegroups in Estonia, Lativa, Lithuania and Poland, and provision of NATO Force Integration Training within the Baltic States.
Story by Allied Air Command Public Affairs Office
(1) Deployable Air Control Centre, Recognized Air Picture Production Centre, Sensor Fusion Post