PÁPA, Hungary – Hungary hosted the 16th helicopter exercise Fire Blade 2022 at Pápa Air Base from June 7-24, 2022 under the umbrella of the European Defence Agency's Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP).
European exercise Fire Blade 2022 provided an opportunity to hone their skills and interoperability that also benefits missions conducted with other NATO members and Partners
Besides host nation Hungary, participating nations Austria, Belgium, Slovakia and Slovenia, provided 550 personnel, 20 helicopters and five supporting fighter aircraft to o practice operations in various environments during day and night sorties, replicating the conditions that air forces are expected to encounter when deploying to different theatres of operation.
Hungarian H145M helicopter landing secured by special forces during exercise Fire Blade 2022. Photo by Joris van Boven.
NATO Partner Austria participated with five helicopters and three PC-7 aircraft. Picture shows an overflight of an Austrian AB212 medium helicopter. Photo by Joris van Boven.
Belgian NH-90 tactical multi-role transport helicopter dropping an intervention team during exercise Fire Blade 2022. Photo by Joris van Boven.
Slovenia participated with an AS532 Cougar helicopter that was employed in an urban warfare scenario dropping an assault team. Photo by Slovenian Armed Force.
"The exercise's main focus was on enhancing interoperability at the tactical level between helicopter units by using the Composite Air Operations (COMAO) concept in a joint, combined, realistic and challenging environment," said Colonel Zoltán Rolkó, Fire Blade 2022 Exercise Director. "Fire Blade 2022 also provided an opportunity for participants to hone their skills and interoperability that also benefits missions conducted with other NATO member and Partner countries," he added.
During exercise Fire Blade 22, participants enhanced tactical interoperability between helicopter units in a combined, joint environment. Theatre-realistic and challenging scenarios enabled common helicopter Tactics, Techniques and Procedures. Training missions included coordination with fighter jets, interoperability with ground forces and exposure to electronic warfare threats. Live-flying training was conducted in a full-spectrum environment ranging from Air Assault, Special Operations Aviation, Close Air Support, convoy/helicopter operations, Combat Search and Rescue operations and Medical or Casualty Evacuation operations.
"Fire Blade 2022 provided opportunities to practice multinational and national formation and training with Special Operations Force units and enhanced crews skills in using the HEP Standard Operating Procedures and COMAO planning procedures in the conduct of flight planning and operations," said Mr. José Pablo Romera, Project Officer Rotary Wing, European Defence Agency (EDA). "The exercise followed a building block approach - it started with an academic session, a familiarisation phase and cross-training activities on small COMAO missions to create mutual understanding of each participant's equipment and standard operational procedures. As the exercise progressed, the complexity of each COMAO mission and the number of assets involved increased," he added.
The EDA's Helicopter Exercise Programme is aimed at providing Member States with a joint European framework to develop, consolidate and share best practices to meet the challenges of flying helicopters in a modern operational environment.