Counter Air Operations – tactical simulated training

MATC coordinated the tactical simulated training for tactical pilots and C2/GCIs in the term 25 – 29 March 2019 in Tactical Simulation Center, Pardubice, Czech Republic. The training was focused on the Counter Air Operations (CAO) training with the specific goals to train Behind Visual Range (BVR) tactics.

The training audience (TA) was selected from young pilots and C2/GCIs from the Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovakia. One of the main valuable contributions for the training was attendance and assistance of Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) Subject-Matter Experts (SME) from Albacete, Spain, who supported both Academic and Practical phases of the training.

The MATC CAO tactical simulated training is a specific training based on NATO standards, which reflects all required training needed for QRA pilots and C2/GCIs. To train the international audience means to enforce the NATO interoperability. Regarding that training, we can mention “The regional interoperability”, because such kind of training provides an opportunity for pilots and C2/GCIs to train and interact in cross-border operations. This sort of training was initiated by MATC In the year 2017, where two courses were held in TSC Pardubice, the Czech Republic, supported that time by Joint Air Power Competence Center (JAPCC) SMEs. MATC signed with JAPCC the Letter of Agreement in 2017 in order to cooperate on NATO aviation personnel training by coordination of SMEs. JAPCC did an excellent job when TLP specialists were managed for CAO tactical simulated training.

The TSC Pardubice, where the training was held, belongs to the state enterprise LOM PRAHA s.p., which was established and is controlled by CZE MoD. This exclusive training facility was offered by CZE MoD for the MATC Training Facility Pool in 2015 when MATC was established. The TSC training system represents both the visual and the sensorial spectrums (Radar, Electro-Optical and Electromagnetic) with a high degree of realism and can offer the synthetic training for tactical pilots, C2/GCIs and FAC/JTAC specialists. These pilots are trained in 8 cockpits (Jas-39 Gripen, L-159 ALCA, or X-plane like), in the C2 rooms is possible to train 4 C2/GCI on separated work stations, and also the FAC/JTAC console is available.

The TA, composed of Jas-39, Mig-29 Fulcrum, Mig-21, L-39 pilots and C2/GCIs, demonstrated in the highest levels of airmanship through this March 2019 CAO training week, especially during this high tempo of virtual flying activity. The adaptation to the man-machine interfaces and to the weapons-sensors suite of the system (Gripen, FOX 3) was a matter of hours. The system provided the TA C2/GCI personnel with interactive, multi-bogey training, rarely available by other training means or real-life systems. As simulation availability was continuous, the TA was able to brief, fly and debrief in a non-stop sequence during this period, even though more time for detailed scenario briefing and mission debriefing would be desired. With a great contribution of the TLP specialists, the training had a steep raise curve and the TA went through nearly all spectrums of Defensive Air-to-Air operations by specific scenarios very successfully with a high level of professionalism. Those scenarios, reflecting the entire spectrum of Air-to-Air threat, were developed by MATC Training Branch in cooperation with MATC participants´ senior pilots and TLP SMEs based on NATO standards. We can state, that all goals of the training were achieved! The Training contributed to NATO and also to the regional interoperability.

Further CAO Tactical Simulated Training weeks will follow and are opened for NATO training audience. MATC is capable to prepare such kind of training for Air-to-Ground specialists in case of demand.
Maj Christian JAGODIĆ is the Croatian experienced Air Force pilot-instructor, flying Mig-21 supersonic aircraft, and his tasks were to contribute to the CAO training preparation, to lead the training week and also to act as the “White Cell” member. We asked him for an interview:

Maj Christian JAGODIĆ
Maj Christian Jagodić, Croatian Air Force

Question: This training in TSC Pardubice is not your first one. Which training did you participate in the past?

Maj Christian Jagodić: This was my third time at the TSC Pardubice. The first training was an introduction to the TSC where the Croatian side verified the suitability of the facility for our national training needs. Additionally, that slot was used to train future training leaders to conduct follow-on courses. The second time was the first training in this sequence, titled “QRA/DCA Tactical Training Ops Training”, where the focus was laid on interoperability among MATC participants in tactical flying. This was the third training in TSC Pardubice.

Q: The Croatian Air Force (CAF) is going to change its fast jet platform in the close future. Could you tell us some more details about that process?

Maj Christian Jagodić: The CAF is for some time involved in the process of acquiring a new fighter platform. There are several candidates that suite the Croatian needs. What they all have in common is that the fighter will be a 4+ generation western type aircraft. That is the most important fact. The jet will certainly be fully NATO compatible.

Q: How do you evaluate the executed CAO TACT SIM TRG week from a position of the Course Leader? Is this specific training valuable for your pilots and GCIs?

Maj Christian Jagodić: The training week and the whole course was a great experience and a valuable lesson for all the participants, and a very good lesson for me as the training leader. It was challenging and at the same a great learning experience for me as the training leader. It was a big lesson in leadership and team-work.
Our pilots and GCIs were very happy with the training. In this simulated environment, we could practice and train procedures and tactics we cannot train at home because of the shortcomings of our fighter platform. An additional benefit I would like to mention is the multinational character of the training. Pilots, GCIs and SMEs from many different NATO partner countries come together and train and practice together. The sharing of knowledge and experience is a big advantage for all the involved, and the resulting learning effect is impressive.

Q: Did the attendance of TLP instructors bring a countable benefit for your training audience?

Maj Christian Jagodić: The TLP instructors’ presence was a formidable addition to the course. It gave the training the proper tools to analyse the missions, teach additional lessons and incorporate the lessons learned in the very next missions. Their knowledge and expertise was a great benefit for all the participants.

Q: Do you think that an Air-to-Ground tactical simulated training might be also considered to be provided by MATC?

Maj Christian Jagodić: I have not personally seen the Air-to-Ground part in the TSC, but from my satisfaction from the Air-to-Air part, I would conclude that it would also be worth taking part in, and I would recommend it to my leadership.

Q: How do you see the future of this CAO course taking in account your new type of aircraft?

Maj Christian Jagodić: Like I mentioned earlier, Croatia is seeking a 4+ generation platform for its fighter force. The tactics and procedures that are trained in the TSC are not platform dependent. The training is better with the adequate platform, but any modern platform can easily be integrated into the TSC. I could imagine coming to such an understanding between the CAF and the TSC.

Q: Which is your opinion concerning the MATC involvement in such training? How can you evaluate the cooperation with this NATO Agency?

Maj Christian Jagodić: I think MATC is doing a great job. It was the MATC initiative in the first place that made this training possible. The benefits of the whole MATC concept are visible in this project, bringing the partner nations with similar needs to a good result. The multinational character MATC brings into the play is a very valuable asset.
Cooperation with MATC is from my point of view very good, and I would recommend keeping MATC involved in this training. 

 Written by JD

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