Text: Serge Van Heertum - Pictures: Philippe Decock, Jacques Vincent, Anthony Graulus & Marc Arys - Translation: Marc Arys © sbap 2015

This yearly exercise, usually called THPU for Tactical Helicopter Procedures Update, was held in Belgium at the Beauvechain airbase from May 18 till 21, 2015. The 1st Wing was host to this event gathering international crews with the aim, as the name says, to update the procedures and align the working methods of the various NATO countries as to execute combined missions in conflictual areas.
During this week, the exercise saw various participating crews from the Czech Air Force, the French Armée de Terre (ALAT), the Dutch Koninklijke Luchtmacht, the German Heeresflieger, the Belgian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. Although this latter only as a tactical observer, no RAF helicopters present.
The contractor and organizer of this big scale exercise was the 17th Squadron flying the Agusta A109. Besides the “administrative” part, live missions were also planned and integrated in the “Challenge Coppy”, in memory of an helicopter pilot tragically killed in 2009 in an accident at Goetsenhoven involving a Piper L-21 from the Air Cadets.

The challenges were among others, navigation flight with restricted aids or spotting known and timed geographical points. During the two first days of the exercise advantage was taken to carry out reconnaissance flights within the training areas reserved for helicopters as to familiarize the foreign crews with the Belgian procedures regarding the airspace management and the methods used by the air traffic controllers.
As with any exercise difficulties increase as the missions develop and on Wednesday 20th, the first big-scale operation was set up. The scenario of this Combined Air Operation (COMAO) played in the Marche-en-Famenne area to extract 4 military personal out of a conflictual zone. First of all an F-16 from Kleine Brogel airbase secured the intervention zone allowing the helicopters to land safely to disembark Belgian para-commandos. These troops were to infiltrate the area and extract the four personal. Once this done, the men were recovered and flown back to Beauvechain. On Thursday May 21st, a second similar mission was planned in the Zoersel airfield area with the evening devoted to the closure of the exercise and general debrief. This was followed by a convivial gathering allowing the crews to chum up.
The “Coppy Challenge” was bestowed to the best A109 crew and the best foreign crew was also put forward.
In all, the exercise was a success for the organizers of the 1st Wing and the icing on the cake was a reserved day for photographers of all kind, which allowed some of our collaborators to immortalize, for our readers, the machines present at the THPU 2015 at Beauvechain.

(Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
(Anthony Graulus) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Anthony Graulus) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
(Anthony Graulus) (Anthony Graulus)
(Anthony Graulus) (Anthony Graulus)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Anthony Graulus) (Philippe Decock)
Some guest visitors: Westland Seaking Mk 48 (Anthony Graulus) Alpha Jet 1B (Anthony Graulus)
Piper L-21 from the Royal Air Cadets (Jacques Vincent) Both planes are Beauvechain based (Philippe Decock)
Siai-Marchetti SF.260M (Anthony Graulus)

F-16 display pilot "Gizmo" spending a visit during the photoshoot day (Philippe Decock)
Participants:

Belgian Air Force 17 Sqn Agusta A109 Beauvechain (EBBE)

Belgian Air Force 18 Sqn Airbus Helicopter NH-90 TTH Beauvechain (EBBE)

Belgian Air Force 40 Sqn Airbus Helicopter NH-90 NFH Koksijde (EBFN)

Koninklijke Luchtmacht 300 Sqn Aerospatiale Alouette III Gilze-Rijen (EHGR)

Heeresfliegergruppe THR 10 Bell UH-1D Iroquois Fassberg (ETHS)

Czech Air Force 222.vrlt Mil-Mi 171Sh Námest (LKNA)

Czech Air Force 221.vrlt Mil-Mi 24V Námest (LKNA)

French Alat 5 RHC Aerospatiale SA342M1 Gazelle Pau (LFBP)

French Alat 5 RHC Aerospatiale SA330B Puma Pau (LFBP)
 
Morning missions
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Jacques Vincent)
Airbus Helicopter NH-90 TTH capability demonstration
(Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Anthony Graulus)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
(Philippe Decock) (Philippe Decock)
May 20th COMAO Combined Air Operation
(Marc Arys)
(Marc Arys) (Marc Arys)
(Marc Arys) (Marc Arys)
Back from the mission in Marche-en-Famenne (Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
(Jacques Vincent) (Jacques Vincent)
The new NH-90's nest (Philippe Decock)

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