What is the HEP?
The HEP is one
of the European Defence Agency helicopter training projects and
programs. By enhancing the operating skills of helicopter crews across
Europe, the HEP plays a part in increasing the deployable helicopter
capability for contingency operations. The exercises focus on
individual, environmental and multinational training, increasing
interoperability through practical experiences, sharing operational
experience and developing common tactics, techniques and procedures.
HEP is a ten-year program, a concrete indication that training
together is an integral part of enhancing European capability and
description of the project
DEFENCE AGENCY HELICOPTER TRAINING
concept was approved at the Ministerial Steering Board in November
2009. Its aim is to provide Member States with a framework to develop
consolidate and share best practices in order to meet the challenges
of flying helicopters in a modern operational environment. The
European Defence Agency provides several individual and interlinked
Exercise Program (HEP)
- Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC)
- Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC)
- Operational English Language Course (OELC)
EXERCISE PROGRAMME (HEP)
Arrangement (PA), the framework document of the HEP, was signed by the
13 contributing Member States in November 2012. This act formally
transitioned the HEP to a Category B program. By enhancing the
operating skills of helicopter crews across Europe, the HEP plays a
part in increasing the deployable helicopter capability for
contingency operations. The exercises focus on individual,
environmental and multinational training, increasing interoperability
through practical experiences, sharing operational experience and
developing common tactics, techniques and procedures. HEP is a
ten-year program, a concrete indication that training together is an
integral part of enhancing European capability and interoperability.
The HEP is
built on three main pillars:
Seven exercises have so far been delivered under the umbrella of the
EDA. These exercises met the urgent training requirements for the
participating Member States (pMS) and greatly enhanced the helicopter
capability available. To date, 14 pMS have actively taken part with
another three sending observers. A total of 206 helicopters, 1320
aircrew and more than 10000 support personnel have deployed to the
exercises which were held in France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and
AZOR 2010 was
an ambitious exercise providing hot high and dust training to a
significant number of crews before they deployed on operations. This
met an urgent training requirement for the pMS concerned and greatly
enhanced the helicopter capability available. The exercise in Italy
continued this process, by focusing much more on the interoperability
and "coalition" type missions.
HOT BLADE 12 in
Portugal introduced COMAO training and included F-16 over-watch
missions to replicate current operational practices.
GREEN BLADE 12
in Belgium introduced Special Operations to the program for the first
time, and was an integrated ground and air exercise.
HOT BLADE 13 in
Portugal further developed COMAO planning/execution/evaluation in hot,
high or dusty environment. HEP SOP introduced for the first time as
common agreed standard. Mentor Team introduced, consisting from HTIC
HOT BLADE 14 in
Portugal focused on joint interoperability training with a setup
similar to previous editions. Mentor team tasks/responsibilities were
15 in Viterbo, Italy, continued to develop joint interoperability
training through the integration of multinational elements, both in
the air and on the ground , in a hot and dusty environment.
COLD BLADE 16
will be held in Finland, focusing on flying in demanding environmental
conditions. The exercise is developed to test the helicopters, test
the aircrew and to teach and learn Technics, Tactics and Procedures in
cold and snowy conditions.
BLACK BLADE 16
is in the intensive planning phase, the SOF exercise will start in
November 2016 in Belgium.
exercises, an integral part of the HEP is the Helicopter Tactics
Symposium which was held four times in Luxembourg. It is designed to
allow helicopter crews to share experiences, gain knowledge of the
current threats they face and discuss tactics, techniques and
procedures. The last Helicopter Tactics Symposium was held in Prague
in December 2014.
Planning Team (CPT)
In order to
ensure coherence and continuity of the program, a CPT of two personnel
has been appointed (initially Germany and Czech Republic filled the
CPT in accordance with the Program Arrangement). Sharing the office
with the EDA Helicopter Program Officers, together they form the
helicopter team within EDA's Cooperation Planning & Support (CPS)
Directorate. The CPT is managed through the EDA Helicopter Program
Manager, ensuring that the knowledge and experience gained so far
transitions into this program. The CPT is tasked by the Management
Committee formed by the representatives of the contributing Member
States (cMS). The main tasks are to assist host nations in the
delivery of exercises and take any lessons identified and integrate
them into future exercises. Additionally, the team is also able to
give training advice to cMS to assist with the national training task
TACTICS COURSE (HTC)
This is a
Category B program involving 7 Member States. It delivers operational
helicopter tactics training aimed at crews designated for upcoming
deployment. It focusses on the understanding of the fluid and often
ill-defined modern operational environment. It concentrates on the
judgmental and cognitive training necessary to meet the complex
challenges faced. Using commercial off-the-shelf components and
serious gaming technologies, the course consists of both theoretical
lessons and realistic missions conducted in a synthetic environment.
Initially, the program ran for two years (until the end of 2013) to
meet the urgent requirement set by the deployment timelines.
Currently, the program is running under the new framework document,
covering three years (2014-2016), with a new set of participating
nations. 40 crews per year (160 aircrew members) are being trained in
the tactics used on current operations. There is an opportunity for
other nations to benefit from this program if they so wish.
TACTICS INSTRUCTOR TRAINING (HTIC)
outstanding achievement of the HEP and HTC we could never hope to
accommodate all the crews across Europe who would benefit from such
training. Consequently, we need to also focus on methods to train the
trainers. Therefore, the Helicopter Tactics Instructors Course (HTIC)
has been created. This course provide aircrew from participating
nations with the skills and knowledge to then deliver tactics training
within their own organizations and to assist in delivering the HEP,
HTC and future HTIC. Successful graduates from the course are awarded
a qualification recognized by all the EU Member States (or at least
all those participating in the program if more practicable).
ENGLISH LANGUAGE COURSE (OELC)
observation of crews operating in complex high-intensity operations
quickly leads to the conclusion that the language used in airspace
control and the prosecution of opportunity targets, bears little
resemblance to the language taught in schools. Consequently, in order
to verify the requirement and potential benefits of a more focused
language course, the EDA conducted three trials "Operational
English Language Courses". Funded by Luxembourg and conducted at
the UK Defence Language School (UK DLS), 35 students from 11 countries
attended a 4 week residential course.
It is becoming more and more certain that future operations will have
to be conducted in a coalition. This requires members of our armed
forces to be able to rapidly deliver operational effects together. The
HEP provides live-flying and the HTC provides simulator training, but
both require assets to be deployed away from home, incurring costs.
Therefore, we need to be able to train together while remaining at
home and this can be achieved through a distributed network of
This has been the subject of work within our pMS and NATO. However,
delivery so far has been limited to nodes operated by the same
commercial organization or between high-end simulators using bespoke
networks. What is needed is a low-cost but high-value training
mechanism. This could be delivered using commercial-off-the-shelf
components, open architectures and games-based synthetic environments
as used in the EDA HTC.
In September 2013, the UK conducted a Capability Concept Demonstrator
(CCD) using a wide range of simulator nodes. They will be basing this
on the VBS2 software and normal internet connections and protocols.
The EDA also wishes to deliver a credible CCD. Consequently, there is
an opportunity to realize synergies between the UK, the HTC and the
EDA and build a bigger network, with more diversity, thus creating a
more comprehensive demonstration.
The project and technical management for the UK side will be provided
by NITEWORKS ( a totally UK government funded, non-profit research
organization) and this support will be extend to integrate the EDA
assets within the same CCD.
The first demonstration was executed in February 2013 with the link up
of the HTC, German and Austrian simulator devices and has already
proved its functionality.
Introducing an aircraft to service is a complex and costly process.
With many participating Member States currently in the process of
fielding the NH90 helicopter, there is an opportunity to reduce
introduction times, man-hours expended and ultimately money through
the sharing of experiences, processes and data. In order to
investigate this potential, and as a result of a request from Germany
and Italy, the EDA has already hosted five NH90 users workshops.
These meetings were very positive and the participating experts
identified three key areas (Training, Operational Test and Evaluation
(OT&E) and Technical Interoperability) they believed provided the
best opportunities to reduce duplication of effort, while provide
substantive savings and increasing effectiveness of the global
European NH90 fleet. It was also decided that the formation of an Ad
Hoc Project Group (AHPG) for each area was the most appropriate
vehicle to exploit these opportunities. NH90 training has been
completely integrated into the EDA helicopter training program.
HELICOPTER WING (MHW)
The concept is to form a Multinational Helicopter Wing (MHW)
consisting of three helicopter elements: heavy-lift, medium-lift and
attack. The burden of provision and sustainment, which is prohibitive
for many nations acting alone, would be shared across several
countries in order to make it affordable and achievable. This Wing
could provide a sustained deployment to operations, whilst also
providing guaranteed support to EU Battlegroups and, simultaneously, a
permanent alert capability for disaster/humanitarian relief.
BASIC FLYING TRAINING (HBFT)
Coalition operations will be the norm
They will be Ad Hoc coalitions formed of countries that have a foreign
policy alignment at that time and place
They will not be standing structures
They will not always be under NATO, EU or UN
They will be reactive and short notice in creation
They will cover the spectrum from humanitarian relief to war-fighting,
possibly within the same mission
They will be assigned under the background of increasing financial
The military need to provide our decision makers/national leaderships
with a plug and play solution, that can be used when and where they
To achieve this skills and knowledge among pMS air crews must be
harmonized and comparable at any and all agreed levels. This requires
a harmonization of the currently disparate training syllabi. This
should also be coherent with and recognized by the civilian licensing
authority. Finally, it is also necessary to define what we mean when
we use expressions like e. g. Basic Flying Training, Advanced Flying
Training, Combat Ready or Qualified Military Pilot. Crews should not
only be viewed as ready for deployment from a national point of view,
but also from wider and common European perspective.
Heertum with Information's from the European Defence Agency)