A Spartan, Phantoms, Gripens and Hornets Train Together

Ram­stein, 20 March 12 – A Lithuan­ian Air Force C‑27 Spar­tan los­es com­mu­ni­ca­tion above inter­na­tion­al waters in the Baltic Sea. What needs to hap­pen to bring the trans­port air­craft back safe­ly?

Finnish F‑18 Hor­net, copy­right to Finnish Air Force, Frank Crébas
Source: NATO
Click to enlarge

This is the sce­nario dur­ing the Baltic Region Train­ing Event (BRTE) XI con­duct­ed by HQ AC Ram­stein in Lithua­nia on 27 and 28 March which involves Ger­man F‑4F Phan­tom fight­ers, present­ly sta­tioned at Šiau­li­ai Air Base to ensure NATO’s Air Polic­ing Mis­sion. The Phan­toms will train hand-over pro­ce­dures with Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fight­ers and Finnish F‑18 Hor­net fight­ers, respectively. 

“This is the first time Fin­land takes part in this series of train­ing events,” says Colonel Lone Trae­holt, Roy­al Dan­ish Air Force, branch head in the oper­a­tions divi­sion of HQ AC Ram­stein, “for Swe­den it is the sec­ond par­tic­i­pa­tion. BRTE XI is an excel­lent chance to train real­is­tic sce­nar­ios with our Part­ner air forces.” 

On 27 March, Swedish JAS-39 Gripen fight­er air­craft will inter­vene the C‑27 Spar­tan in Swedish air­space and escort it back towards Lithua­nia, where the NATO Quick Reac­tion Alert (Inter­cept) or QRA(I) fight­er air­craft – Ger­man Air Force F‑4F Phan­tom air­craft will take over and escort it back to Šiauliai. 

“We’ve made friends here in the Baltic States and the Baltic Air Polic­ing mis­sion has mean­while become a rou­tine event for the Ger­man Air Force,” says Lieu­tenant Colonel Hol­ger Rad­mann, com­man­der of the Ger­man Phan­tom con­tin­gent at Šiau­li­ai, “it is impor­tant that we use oppor­tu­ni­ties like the BRTE series to fur­ther prac­tise and exe­cute pro­ce­dures in close coor­di­na­tion with part­ner nations to ensure safe­ty of the NATO airspace.” 

On 28 March the same sce­nario will be exe­cut­ed with Finnish F‑18 Hor­nets, and a media event will take place at Šiau­li­ai Air Base. 

“You can imag­ine that all these pro­ce­dures require a lot of prepa­ra­tion and coor­di­na­tion,” says Colonel Trae­holt, “and the pur­pose of this BRTEs is to prac­tise between NATO and Part­ner air and ground crews to enable them to exe­cute their job prop­er­ly across bor­ders. We are not just look­ing at pilots though but also at the oper­a­tors in the air com­mand and con­trol cen­tres in Lithua­nia, Ger­many, Fin­land and Sweden.” 

These facil­i­ties are the joint Baltic Con­trol and Report­ing Cen­tre at Karmela­va, the NATO Com­bined Air Oper­a­tions Cen­tre at Uedem, Ger­many, as well as a Swedish and a Finnish Air Oper­a­tions Centre. 

“We appre­ci­ate the oppor­tu­ni­ty to take part in this NATO event for the first time as it helps us to learn NATO pro­ce­dures that apply to air­space safe­ty,” says Lieu­tenant Colonel Pasi Joki­nen, Finnish Air Force, “the exchange of expe­ri­ence helps us to deep­en pro­fes­sion­al coop­er­a­tion between air forces.” 

“Swe­den took part already dur­ing BRTE VIII last March,” says Lieu­tenant Colonel Robert Pers­son, Swedish Air Force, “and this time we can build on what we estab­lished and train anoth­er of our QRA(I) assets in work­ing with the Alliance.” 

“We are always pleased to host these Allied train­ing events here at Šiau­li­ai,” says Colonel Jucius Antanas, Chief of Staff of the Lithuan­ian Air Force, “and we are look­ing for­ward to this out­stand­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty to train our nation­al, Allied and Part­ner air forces.” 

Allied Com­mand Oper­a­tions

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