The last Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) Flying Course of 2013 wrapped up at Los Llanos Air Base, Albacete, at the beginning of October. During the final week the base hosted 400 aviation enthusiasts from all over Europe (and a few other parts of the world!), who attended two Spotter’s Days on 1 and 2 October. Chris Wood popped down to Spain again to report for GAR.
The aim of the TLP organisation is to develop leadership as well as mission planning, briefing, conduct and debriefing skills for tactical air operations, thereby increasing the effectiveness of Allied Air Forces. This is achieved through a mixture of conferences, visits, academic courses and flying courses. These are used to train aircrew in the planning and conduct of Composite Air Operations (COMAO), and to train non-flying personnel in all aspects of COMAO.
Flying Course 2013-5 started on 9 September and included participants from only three of the ten TLP partner air forces – France, Italy and Spain -plus guests from Poland, Switzerland and Turkey.
The French contingent consisted of four Mirage 2000Ds from BA133 Nancy-Ochey, representing several of the based squadrons, including EC01.003 “Navarre” and 03.003 “Ardennes”.
There were also a pair of Mirage 2000Cs from EC02.005 “Ile de France” at BA116 Orange-Caritat and a pair of Mirage 2000-5Fs from GC01.002 “Cigognes” at BA116 Luxeuil- Saint Saveur.
The Italians provided four Eurofighter 2000s, with two from 4 Stormo at Grosseto and another two from 37 Stormo at Trapani in Sicily.
The home team were represented by three EF-18AM Hornets from Ala 15 at Zaragoza and four F/A-18As from Ala 46 based at Gando Air Base in Gran Canaria.
Joining them were a pair of Eurofighter 2000 Typhoons from the based Ala 14, although the aircraft are on loan from the Moron based Ala 11. Ala 14 is currently transitioning to the Typhoon having retired their Mirage F1s at the end of June this year.
However, a few F1s were seen to be flying, as a sale of a number of them (quoted as 16) to Argentina is imminent.
The Polish Air Force fielded the largest contingent with eight of their Block 52+ F-16C Fighting Falcons from 31 ELT at Poznan-Krzesiny, all carrying conformal fuel tanks.
The Swiss brought four F/A-18C Hornets, including one in special markings for 18 Staffel “Panthers” based at Payerne, and a two seat F/A-18D.
The Turkish contingent had originally consisted of four F-16Cs and a pair of F-16Ds from a mix of squadrons, but half of them, three aircraft from 142 Filo at Akinci, left after the first two weeks. The remaining three consisted of a pair of Merzifon based aircraft, an F-16C from 152 Filo “Raiders” plus an F-16D from 151 Filo “Bronze”, and a further F-16C from 192 Filo “Tigers” at Balikesir.
In the later parts of the exercise the UK provided a pair of Hawk T1s from 100 Squadron at RAF Leeming.
The last week of the exercise normally includes a Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) phase, and this time the helicopter participants included three Spanish aircraft: an Air Force AS332B Super Puma from Ala 48 at Getafe, and two aircraft from the Spanish Navy: an AB212 from 3 Escuadrilla and an SH-3H Sea King from 5 Escuadrilla, both based at Rota.
They were joined by an HH-3F Pelican from 15 Stormo of the Italian Air Force based at Practica di Mare.
The Spotters Days followed a similar format to the previous one in February 2012, with access to the ramp area in the morning, followed by lunch and then transport out to the runway for the launch and recovery.
The first day was fairly cloudy until part way through the recovery but the second day was glorious with clear blue skies almost until the end of the day.
The TLP Commander and his staff are to be commended for allowing access during what is obviously a busy time for them as the flying course reaches its conclusion. Thanks are also due to Alejandro Afonso at the Fighter Community for all his hard work organising the Spotters Days.