The Tactical Leadership Programme ends its third flight course in 2022
Tactical Leadership Programme is a unique, stand-alone organization based on a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Air Forces of Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and United States of America. Located in Spain, other Nations such as Switzerland, Turkey or Poland have been invited as guests to the TLP courses.
During Cold War seven NATO nations defending West German airspace recognized the need to train together and in January 1978 some of them: Belgium, Canada, Germany, Netherlands, United Kingdom and United States, signed the agreement to form the Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE) Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) at the German Air Force Base: Fliegerhorst Fürstenfeldbruck.
Early TLP courses took the form of a two-week seminar where aircrew discussed and formulated NATO tactics, techniques and procedures. Over the years the TLP has changed several locations and its program, until reaching in 2009 the current headquarters in Albacete AFB in Spain with the previously mentioned NATO members.
Tactical Leadership Programme is committed to the following tasks:
- Preparation of NATO and allied forces flight leaders to be Mission Commanders to lead coalition force air strike packages.
- Instruction of allied flying and non-flying personnel in all matters related to tactical composite air operations.
- Introduction of new NATO partners and allies to NATO tactical air operations.
- Provision of tactical air expertise to NATO agencies
The Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) has carried out its third flight course in September 2022 with personnel from Belgium, Denmark, France, Spain and the United States; one of the main aspects was the continuous integration of modern aircraft of fifth generation combat in the tactics, techniques and procedures common.
Flight Course (FC 2022-3)
Flight Course (FC 2022-3) began on September 12th and extended until September 30th with 700 participants, including 32 pilots, intelligence officers and air traffic controllers who being graduated at the end of the courses, after a week of academic activities and simulator flights, the participants, began the flight phase.
The fighters jet made up in two forces: “blue” against “red” forces that made maneuvers applying Composite Air Operations procedures (COMAO). 24 jets Blue Force composed af this assets: F-35, F-15E, F-16, F-18D/E and Eurofighter, acted as a defensive force and performed air missions against 10 Red Force aircraft, some of them supported by a French General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper drone.
“The participation of the F-35 is key in this course to get good lessons learned on the process of integration of 4th and 5th Generation platforms, the first pillar of the TLP Strategy,” – TLP Commandant Colonel Alberto Martínez.
Lockheed Martin F35A
The mission of Lockheed Martin F35A has been specially analysed so that in the future can adapt the new capabilities of the 5th generation aircraft to the TLP. It is planned that the F35 can be counted on for future courses in 2023, since that the experiences that nations are having with them in this course participants and pilots are very interested in continuing to investigate the capabilities offered by the tactical course.
The successful participation of American F35 in this, is awakening a lot interest in other nations that have these fighter models, but cannot yet occur, since it is known that, to participate in the TLP, you must have a minimum of flight experience to be able to participate, and those nations have not yet reached that number of hours needed to be participating pilots in the Program of Tactical Leadership.
On this occasion, United Kingdom has not been able to participate with its Eurofighter Typhoon due to their operational commitments, participating in international missions (Syria, Baltic countries, etc.) and such intense activity has prevented us from offering the planes for past courses, but their participation is expected again soon and possibly in 2024, they already participate with their F35.
USS “George W. Bush” (CVN-77)
They had a last-minute cancellation and coincidentally the nuclear aircraft carrier USS “George W. Bush” (CVN-77), present in Mediterranean Sea, under the command of the VI Fleet, was asked if he could participate, and they gladly offered US Navy 4 Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.
It’s significant that they are liking this participation so much, that they have expressed the intention to do it again and the participation of an aircraft carrier is not ruled out in Mediterranean in TLP courses.
Although the Americans already operate the 4thand 5th generation aircraft together, the advantages offered by the Tactical Leadership Program are very broad, due to the participation of the 10 nations, offer them a much broader field of interoperability, with different media, you can enjoy very good weather and a space unbeatable.
As support for the realization of FC 2022-3, it is counted as in other courses with the essential presence of an air control and early warning aircraft Boeing E-3F “Sentry” of French Armée de l’Air et de l’Espace, operating from their Base Aerienne 702 “Capitaine Georges Madon” (BA 702) located in Avord (central France). Sentry operates from its homebase in principle for doesn’t affect the operability of the exercises, and thus the space it would occupy in the base is available to accommodate aircraft from participating countries.
Flight Course – FC22-04
With the words of Colonel Martinez: “TLP courses aim to improve tactical leadership skills and flight capabilities to further enhance the tactical interoperability of NATO air forces”. The TLP continued in October with various academic courses and from 14th November to 2nd December with the last 2022 session of Flight Courses (FC22-04).