Text: Serge Van Heertum - Translation: Marc Arys
Pictures: Serge Van Heertum, Pierre Taquet, Other as mentionned
© sbap 2018
 
Gilze Rijen aibase guards: Alouette III from the "Grasshoppers" team
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Republic F-84F Thunderstreak
(Serge Van Heertum©)
  

APROC 2018; "That others may live"
The Air Centric Personnel Recovery Operatives' Course (APROC) 2018 was held between May 23rd and June 6th at the Dutch Main Operating Base of Gilze Rijen near Breda in the southern part of the Netherlands. This was the 12th edition of this courses held annually at different locations throughout Europe.
The course aims to educate and train Aircrews and Extraction Forces in the implementation of internationally agreed techniques and procedures for Personnel Recovery operations as a member of a combined and joint force contingent. The result of this kind of training will be an interoperable force that will be able to provide a viable Personnel Recovery capability for future contingencies. The course aims were achieved by planning and conducting 26 missions in 9 flying days, resulting in more than 140 sorties and 300 flight hours of the participating aircraft. This training opportunity enables the participants to train the Personnel Recovery mission profile in a realistic and international environment that uses the processes and structures found in international operations. The APROC is currently the only European opportunity that focuses entirely on this kind of missions and attracts great interest in many countries.
There are multiple reason to ensure the wellbeing of the most important resource into military operations, the terrain personnel. Therefore, Personnel Recovery has recently experienced a boost in importance and nations now acknowledge the requirement to invest in the establishment of this capability. The presence of 15 General Officers during the Distinguished Visitors' Day on May 31st is a proof of this development. The organizer of the course, the European Personnel Recovery Centre (EPRC) is a small Headquarter consisting of 15 Personal Recovery (PR) experts and was formed in 2015 to foster the development of a PR capability in Europe.
EPRC conducted the course for the 4th time and a major improvement was noted in its capability to prepare and conduct such a huge event was seen.
Needless to say, the Host nation and the Defense Helicopter Command (DHC) were instrumental in the preparation process e.g. the provision of the Host Nation Support (HNS) without which, there would have been no possibility to organize this event.
For the first time, a host nation elicited support from a 3rd party and asked the 3rd Wing of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana to provide the working accommodation material for the course. As this Italian unit already successfully supported APROC 2017 at Rivolto Air Base. Finally, the preparations that were conducted over more than one year paid off and the excellent cooperation between the host nations, including the 3rd Wing and the EPRC provided an ideal framework for the exercise. For the flying phase of the exercise, the central European location of Gilze Rijen restricted the freedom of movement of the participants. These challenges were tackled and, in most cases, resolved. However, the integration of Fixed Wing and Rotary Wing assets in a personal recovery scenario like it was planned in the APROC remains an organizational challenge to be considered in the future.
For this year's course 577 personnel from 12 countries were deployed to the Dutch airbase which is the home of the Defense Helicopter Command (DHC) of the Royal Dutch Armed Forces. For the 2018 exercise, Spain, France, Italy, Great Britain, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden deployed personnel and aerial assets. The aerial assets deployed for this edition were Lockheed-Martin F-16AM (KLU / 312 Sqn) and Eurofighter EF-2000 (AMI / 36° Stormo) in the Fixed Wing RESCORT role. The Rotary Wing RESCORT role were provided by 2 Aerospatiale AS-555NN Fennec (Armée de l'Air / EH 05.067), 4 Boeing AH-64DN Apache (KLU / 301 Sqn) and 2 Mil-Mi 24V (Polish Air Force / 56. BLT ). The extraction role were ensured by 2 Boeing CH-47D/F Chinook (KLU / 298 Sqn), 1 Aerospatiale AS532U2 Cougar (KLU / 300 Sqn), 1 Aerospatiale AS-332B1 Super Puma (Spanish Air Force / 803 Esc), Airbus Helicopter NH-90 NFH (French Navy / Flotille 31F), 2 Agusta Westland AW101 Merlin HC.3A (Royal Navy / 846 NAS), 1Agusta Westland EH-101A (Marina Militare / 1° Gruppo Elicotteri), 1 Agusta Westland HH-101A Caesar (AMI / 15° Stormo) and 1 Sikorsky Hkp.16A - UH-60M Blackhawk (Swedish Air Force /2.Hkpskv ). Moreover, an Italian Conformal Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft Gulfstream G 550 CAEW (AMI / 14° Stormo) was also deployed to Gilze-Rijen to ensure the Airborne Mission Coordinator (AMC) role. This turned out to be very beneficial, as all E-3A Sentry (AWACS) missions planned for support of the exercise were cancelled for aircraft availability reasons. In addition to the aircrew, also Extraction Forces from Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France and Sweden joined the exercise as members of the primary training audience. Members of the armed forces of Belgium, Canada, Germany, Denmark and the United States of America deployed personnel to support the course.
The APROC is a "follow on" course from the Combined Joint Personnel Standardization Course and the Combined Joint Combat Search and Rescue Standardization course, a series of courses that started in 2007. To date, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Hungary and Netherland hosted this course at various locations. The next edition will be held in June 2019 and will be conducted at the Spanish Air Force Base Zaragoza.

 
Early morning, some birds are doing touch and go     (Serge Van Heertum©)
 
Gilze Rijen morning activities
 
(Serge Van Heertum©) Morning clean up
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Waking up "Apache"
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Preparing for the missions of the day
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
KLU "Hercules" coming for some touch and go
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
 
APROC 2018 May 30th COMAO mission
 
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Courtesy KLU Gilze Rijen©)
Mission aborded for the Swedish Blackhawk  (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) Close up on the Giat M621 20 mm gun
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Pierre Taquet©)
(Serge Van Heertum©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©) (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
Was not planned in the May 30th mission
(Courtesy KLU Gilze Rijen©)
(Courtesy KLU Gilze Rijen©)
(Courtesy KLU Gilze Rijen©) Mission aborded for the Swedish team on May 30th
(Courtesy KLU Gilze Rijen©)
(Courtesy EPRC via Web ©) (Courtesy EPRC via Web ©)
(Courtesy EPRC via Web ©) (Courtesy EPRC via Web ©)
(Courtesy EPRC via Web ©) (Courtesy EPRC via Web ©)
Back from mission...  (Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Serge Van Heertum©)
(Pierre Taquet©)
(Pierre Taquet©)
Arrival of a Socata TBM-700 as support aircraft  (Pierre Taquet©)
 

Conformal Airborne Early Warning (CAEW)
Operators: Israeli Air Force, Singapore Air Force, Italian Air Force, US Air Force

Two highly modified CAEW aircraft were delivered to Elta Systems Ltd., a subsidiary of Israeli Aircraft Industries in 2006 for installation of Elta's conformal airborne early-warning radar system. CAEW provides improved performance compared to previous systems through higher operating altitudes, longer range and increased mission time on station. Further performance advantages result from its capability to quickly direct radar beams in any direction at any time. The Elta system features six multi-purpose operator stations with color monitors.
The system provides rapid target acquisition and information with full 360-degree coverage. The multi-functional Elta EL/W-2085 AEW system includes a phased-array, airborne early-warning radar, and identification friend-or-foe system, electronic support measures (ESM), and electronic intelligence (ELINT) and communications intelligence (COMINT) systems. Its many modes of operation include track initiation, an extended-detection range mode with long dwell times, and target verification.
Circa 2005 the Israeli Air Force purchased five Gulfstream G550-based Eitam aircraft to serve as the new IDF platform for its newer generation of AEW systems. The new aircraft use the EL/W-2085 dual-band sensor suite, and are more capable and less expensive to operate than the older Boeing 707-based EL/M-2075. Extensive modifications were made to the Gulfstream's fuselage by IAI, such as the addition of protruding composite radomes, to house the radar arrays in conformal body modifications. Based at Nevatim Airbase.
The EL/W-2085 was developed from the single-band EL/M-2075 "Phalcon" system.
Instead of using a rotodome, a moving radar found on some AEW&C aircraft, the EL/W-2085 uses an active electronically scanned array (AESA) - an active phased array radar. This radar consists of an array of transmit/receive (T/R) modules that allow a beam to be electronically steered, making a physically rotating rotodome unnecessary. AESA radars operate on a pseudorandom set of frequencies and also have very short scanning rates, which makes them difficult to detect and jam. Up to 100 targets can be tracked simultaneously to a range of 200 nmi (370 km), while at the same time, over a dozen air-to-air interceptions or air-to-ground attacks can be guided. The radar equipment of the Israeli CAEW consists of each one L-band radar left and right sides on the fuselage and each one S-band antenna in nose and tail. The phased array allows positions of aircraft on operator screens to be updated every 2-4 seconds, rather than every 20-40 seconds as is the case on the rotodome AWACS.
In 2007, four similar G550-EL/W-2085 aircraft were purchased by the Republic of Singapore Air Force to replace its upgraded E-2C Hawkeyes. The new G550 aircraft entered service on 13 April 2012.
After Israel chose the Italian M-346 advanced trainer aircraft for the Israeli Air Force in 2012, Italy ordered two G550-based AEW&C systems as an industrial offset. The cost of the two systems is around US $850 million. The first aircraft was delivered on 19 December 2016.

 
Gulfstream G550 AEWC 14-12 (MM62293)
 (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©)
 
Gulfstream G550 AEWC 14-12 (MM62303)
 
 (Serge Van Heertum©)
 (Serge Van Heertum©)
 
 

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