Tactical Weapons Meet
Florennes Air Base, Belgium
For the first time since 2009 when the Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) moved to Albacete in Spain; the 2nd Tactical Wing at Florennes Air Base once again played host to a large scale jet exercise dubbed as Tactical Weapons Meet 2017 (TWM 2017). Aviation in Action were present during the final day of the exercise to report on events.
Hosted by the resident Belgian Air Force 1 Squadron ‘Stingers’, TWM 2017 ran for two weeks from the 5th to 16th June and saw strong participation from 5 other NATO members. Alongside Belgium the exercise saw attendance from Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the United Kingdom operating the following aircraft:
|Belgian Air Force||1 Squadron||Lockheed Martin F-16AM||FA-92|
|Lockheed Martin F-16AM||FA-121|
|Lockheed Martin F-16AM||FA-132|
|Lockheed Martin F-16AM||FA-135|
|Lockheed Martin F-16BM||FB-21|
|Lockheed Martin F-16BM||FB-22|
|Hellenic Air Force||338 Mira||McDonnell Douglas F-4E AUP||01512|
|McDonnell Douglas F-4E AUP||01534|
|Italian Air Force||4 Stormo||F-2000A Typhoon||MM7290 / 4-7|
|F-2000A Typhoon||MM7304 / 4-21|
|F-2000A Typhoon||MM7323 / 4-6|
|Polish Air Force||23. BLT (1. Elt)||Mikoyan MiG-29A||40|
|Royal Air Force||100 Squadron||BAE Hawk T.1A||XX285/CK|
|BAE Hawk T.1A||XX346/CP|
|Spanish Air Force||Ala 11||EF2000 Tifon||C.16-33 / 11-12|
|EF2000 Tifon||C.16-51 / 11-17|
|EF2000 Tifon||C.16-63 / 11-28|
TWM 2017 was designed to enable participating crews to operate together and share different experiences, tactics and procedures gained from recent operations or deployments. This opportunity went hand in hand with the primary aim of the exercise, thus enabling new young pilots the ability to put this shared knowledge into practise. The end goal for participating crews was to qualify as a ‘2-ship leader’; the ability to lead a flight of two aggressor aircraft significantly increasing their fighting ability.
In the first week, participants learnt and understood advantages and limitations of working within a coalition force. The second week built on that understanding whilst ramping up the intensity of the training, bringing in joint and combined war type missions with the main aim of sharing experiences/tactics developed during recent coalition operations. This type of flying exercise allowed pilots from different nations to train together in a simulated operational environment, showcasing the strengths and weaknesses that present themselves when different types of aircraft operate as one force. TWM hosted over 200 personnel, who together allowed flight crews to rack up a high number of sorties totalling over 300 flight hours. Most of the sorties were flown in the airspace above and around Florennes, with additional sorties to the nearby TSA26 and TRA205 training areas.
In addition to hosting TWM 2017, 1 Squadron were coincidentally celebrating their centenary year with much of the celebrations focussed around the exercise. An official ceremony was organised not long after the exercise to recognise their 100 years of existence, but also 1 Squadron kindly hosted a Spottersday on the 15th June welcoming upwards of 700 enthusiasts onto the grounds of Florennes to mark the special centenary of the squadron whilst witnessing the operations of TWM. The Stingers did a fantastic job organising these events, drawing in a number of special visiting aircraft for the enthusiasts to see, many from the Belgian Air Force but also a pair of Armée de L'air Mirage 2000-5F’s from 1/2 ‘Storks’ Cigognes based at Luxeuil Air Base in France and a pair of Luftwaffe EF2000’s from TLG 71 ‘Richthofen’ based at Wittmund in Germany.
AIA would like to extend our thanks to 2 Tactical Wing at Florennes Air Base and the personnel of 1 Squadron for organising these events and hosting us, without them this report would not have been possible. Special thanks also go to all the crews and squadrons who participated in TWM 2017.
Credits: Article and photography by Scott Wayne