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    Component challenges the Arctic

    Component challenges the Arctic

    Courtesy Photo | Two E-3As waiting for their first mission. (Photo by Capt. André Bongers)... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    NATO E-3A Component

    By Capt. André Bongers

    ØRLAND, Norway - It’s Monday morning 0830. The OPS building at Forward Operating Location Ørland is crowded with people. About 50 crew members are working together doing mission planning for their first flight during exercise Arctic Challenge. Updates keep coming in and before they know it they are stepping into their jet.

    This year’s Arctic Challenge (ACE15) can be defined as one of the biggest exercises within NATO and even worldwide. The exercise features about 95 aircraft flying from several locations in Norway, Sweden and Finland. An exercise area that covers almost 30 percent of Sweden measuring 350 miles North to South and 180 miles East to West. For this reason the component participated with two jets, both flying daily missions for red and blue air.

    Deployment commander for this exercise Lt. Col. Peter Geubbels emphasized the importance, “The component is constantly busy with real world tasking like the assurance measure sorties and the HVE in southern Germany. Duties during these missions only reflect a minority of the skills we need to train. Exercises like ACE15 are important to make and keep the crews proficient. The types of missions are diverse and the number of participating aircraft is huge so getting the crews trained is relatively simple and very effective.”

    Partnership for Peace
    Sweden, a Partnership for Peace country, hosts the airspace for ACE15. Because of Swedish Legislation the E-3As are required to have Swedish observers on board during the missions.

    Capt. Ola Andersson from the Swedish CRC Cobra is one of them.

    “It’s a legal requirement for Sweden to embed liaisons in order to control aircraft in Swedish airspace,” the captain explained. “This is not the first time this happens. In 2013 during the last ACE I was also an observer on board the NATO E-3A.”

    Besides the Swedish observers, also Finnish observers joined the E-3A crew on a couple of missions to familiarize themselves. For Capt. Andersson flying on board the E-3A is a nice experience.

    “I really like the teamwork which is displayed by the international crew,” the captain said. “The different nationalities make the work even more interesting and challenging.”

    Evaluations in the heat of the moment
    Being part of the crew during this large-scale exercise is a challenge, getting your Combat Ready (CR) evaluation is rather something different. First Lt. Jessica Trawick had the opportunity to show that she’s got what it takes to be a combat ready E-3A crew member. Already on day two of the exercise she had to undergo her evaluation.

    Lt. Trawick said, “I arrived at the Component in September 2014. This is my first large scale exercise. To me it’s extremely valuable. Over here you gain more experience in two weeks than you would normally do in a month back home in Geilenkirchen. Getting evaluated during such a complex scenario is intimidating, but it’s a great opportunity to show what I’ve learned. I’m glad everything went well and I am Combat Ready.”

    Not only the arctic is a challenge
    The choice for deploying to FOL Ørland was based on common sense. It’s a second home to the E-3A and component personnel. Despite this there were still some challenges to overcome. The exercise staff of ACE15 was deployed in Bodø Main Air Station in the Northern part of Norway.

    Col. Geubbels added, “Briefings and debriefings are essential during these types of large-scale exercises. Being dislocated means extra coordination which is done through liaisons deployed in the Norwegian Air Operation Centre and Bodø Air Base. It’s all about getting information on the right time to the right location.”

    Another challenge is the number of missions to be flown with two E-3A’s.

    Col. Geubbels continued, “Flying two missions every day with two jets available is quite something. Especially the weather here in Ørland plays a major factor which we can’t influence. Despite this, our team here at Ørland is doing the utmost to keep the jets flying.”

    Orland always feels like home
    FOL Ørland, as always, provided the necessary support as needed and even more.

    Col. Geubbels stated, “Our Norwegian colleagues are always willing to make that extra move. Sometimes we ask more than we can expect and the outcome is always positive.”

    Not only did the FOL performed on a high level, the support from Ørland Air Base was also more than welcome.

    ”Our missions normally leave at noon and come back around 1700 – 1800,” he said. “To ensure that all crew members have a decent meal the base extended the opening hours. They were also very helpful towards the Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 Tanker crews that supported ACE 15 from Ørland. The Norwegians showed a high level of professionalism which is definitely something that impacted our successful contribution toward Arctic Challenge 2015.”



    Date Taken: 06.11.2015
    Date Posted: 06.25.2015 07:50
    Story ID: 168049
    Location: ØRLAND, NO

    Web Views: 701
    Downloads: 0