The first Czech helicopter crew graduated as "Helicopter Tactics Instructors"

Autor: Nuala Casey, Oldrich Holecek

Together with successful helicopter crews from Germany, Sweden, United Kingdom and Austria, last week, the first Czech helicopter crew graduated from the Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC).

The two pilots and a flight engineer from 22nd Helicopter Base in Namest nad Oslavou have joined the growing cadre of the helicopter tactics instructors at European level. Moreover, Captain Ladislav Zajicek was declared the top student of the course, which demonstrates the high level of training attainable within the Czech Air Force.

The second HTIC was delivered in partnership with Sweden and the UK. It was executed in two parts; the classroom and simulator phase which ran in the UK (RAF Linton-on-Ouse) from March 23rd to April 13th, and the live flying phase which took place in Sweden (Vidsel Test Range) from April 27th to May 18th. The complete course is part of the EDA helicopter training system and directly linked with the Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP) and the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC).

The aim of this project is to give selected European helicopter aircrew tactical depth and expertise, leading to an enhanced awareness of helicopter tactics and employment and multi-national integration. At the end of the course, graduates are to be adept at imparting tactical instruction during training and on operations, and to be competent in leading multi-platform, complex, Composite Air Operations (COMAOs).

The course focuses on methods for training both the new cadre of tactical instructors and delivering bespoke instructional training to returning graduates from the first course. It was the first time that trainees from the previous year returned to teach as student instructors, under the supervision of the UK RWOETU (Rotary-Wing Operational Evaluation and Training Unit).

The Simulator Phase was executed in the simulator facility of the HTC, which were updated in 2013 with EW devices, and which follows the syllabus of the UK QHTI (Qualified Helicopter Tactics Instructor) Course as the baseline of the set up. The whole course was run by the UK instruction team of the RWOETU.

The ratio of usually one instructor to one student is another criteria that significantly stresses the high value output of the course, and allows a very individual and supportive training programme. Additionally, using the English language occasionally creates a different interpretation of the same issue.

The flying phase consisted of 20 students from Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden and the UK, together with 7 observers from Czech Republic, Belgium, Portugal and the EDA, who are trained by 15 British instructors. The live flying phase was carried out in cooperation with the UK’s 100 Sqn operating with their 2 HAWK fast jets as red air during the evasion training in the first week and 4 Czech L-159 ALCA and 2 Swedish GRIPENS assuming an aggressor role in week 2 and 3.

The attending helicopters were 1 OH 58 KIOWA (Austria), 1 MI 171 (Czech Republic), 1 CH-53 (Germany), 1 UH-1D (Germany), 1 NH90 (Sweden), 2 AS332 (United Kingdom).

The HTI Course delivers an outstanding opportunity for helicopter crews to be exposed to the training methodology and tactical knowledge of other Member States. It is also the first step in delivering a sustainable European course where successful graduates can be awarded a qualification recognised by all the EDA member states. Additionally, on returning home, these graduates are able to pass on the mutual understanding and methodologies to their own crews, and can interact as a key player with other helicopter programmes as mentors.

During HOT BLADE 2014 in Portugal this July, some of the newly trained instructors will form the Mentor Team, ready to support the multi-national crews in the preparation and execution of the challenging COMAO missions during this HEP exercise.

The set-up of the future courses HTIC is being sought by the EDA, together with other nations which are interested in participation.

Author: Milos Pecha, European Defence Agency

May, 2014