NATO member countries rehearsing airspace protection over Europe

Autor: Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek

Ground based air defence units from ten NATO countries are currently taking part in exercises in various locations throughout the Czech Republic, Lithuania and Romania. The objective, to improve cooperation and interoperability in protecting airspace.

Czech soldiers preparing to launch a missile from an RBS-70 air defence system (1)
Czech soldiers preparing to launch a missile from an RBS-70 air defence system (1)

Unlike previous years, the ‘Tobruq Legacy 2017’ exercise is being held simultaneously in the three countries led by a detachment from the US Army which has its headquarters in Romania.

Up to 2200 personnel from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, the United Kingdom, and the USA are involved in the joint air command and control structure, as well as defensive operations within the European airspace.

Five hundred allied soldiers training in Bohemia

"One of the main goals of the exercise is to improve the reactions and response time of the units in performing ground air defence tasks within a multinational task force, as well as increasing the level of interoperability between coalition units during a combined air defence operation," said Lieutenant Colonel Jaroslav Daverny, the leader of the exercises in the Czech Republic.

More than five hundred soldiers from six NATO countries are training out of the Hradiste Military Training Area, the Namest Air Base and Strakonice where the 25th Air Defence Missile Regiment is located. They operate a wide spectrum of air defence systems; the Czechs and Lithuanians train with the RBS-70 and S-10M systems, the Americans employ the AVENGER, the Slovaks use the IGLA, and the Hungarians the MISTRAL systems.

The ‘enemy’ is represented by the Czech SAAB-39 Gripen and L-159 ALCA fighters, the Czech Mil Mi-24 and American AH-64 Apache helicopters.

The joint exercise will culminate later this week with a live firing drill by air defence systems at short range.

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By Nuala Casey and Oldrich Holecek

July 21, 2017