Ramstein, Germany - The French Air and Space Force is concluding its major annual combat readiness training, Exercise VOLFA, which has involved more than 50 Allied aircraft, between September 27 to October 15 at Mont-de-Marsan Air Base, France.
The high intensity combat training exercise, VOLFA 2021 pitted Allied crews and commanders against a scenario involving operations over hostile terrain in a contested threat environment. French fighters, transports and helicopters worked alongside Allies from Germany, Canada, Spain, Belgium and NATO Partner Switzerland, alongside airborne troops from France, Belgium, Denmark and the UK.
"the VOLFA exercise represents a unique opportunity for our crews to work in a contested environment where they will broaden their fields of expertise "
"Our participation in the VOLFA exercise represents a unique opportunity for our crews to work in a contested environment where they will broaden their fields of expertise in the planning and execution of complex missions", explains Lieutenant Colonel Alexandre Dubois, head of the Canadian helicopter detachment.
A mixed formation of Allied fighters including French Rafale, Mirage 2000 and a German Eurofighter led by an A400M transport during Exercise VOLFA. Photo courtesy of the French Air and Space Force.
An A400M departing while a Canadian C-130 waits. These transport aircraft are used heavily during airborne operations. Photo courtesy of the French Air and Space Force.
A French helicopter comes in to land during a Joint Personnel Recovery mission. This ensures that isolated personnel are recovered back to friendly lines. Photo courtesy of the French Air and Space Force.
Around 30 missions were carried out day and night allowing Allies to practice interoperability for complex initial force entry operations, including air superiority, reconnaissance and close air support. The latter was carried out in close coordination with Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) who were embedded with ground forces providing vital air support to the land commanders.
A joint approach to achieving these complex missions are vital, a perfect illustration of this was in one of the phases: the insertion of airborne troops in transport planes and helicopters to an area defended by enemy surface-to-air defense systems, supported by a multinational fleet of fighter and bombers from the various participants.
Without joint work, the mission cannot succeed
"We were very easily integrated into the international environment, especially for the preparation of missions. Without joint work, the mission cannot succeed," said Lieutenant Colonel Christoph Hachmeister, head of the German Eurofighter detachment.