TAC-UK 2019 - Dutch helicopters train in UK

Dutch helicopters train UK
TAC-UK 2019 - Dutch helicopters train in UK.

The Dutch Helicopter Command (DHC) went abroad for an electronic warfare exercise, to the United Kingdom. For two weeks, from February 25th, until March 08th, 2019, the RAF Spadeadam training ground was the exercise area for eight Dutch helicopters.

Two AS-532U2 Cougars, three AH-64D Apaches and three CH-47 Chinooks flew from their homebase Gilze-Rijen (ICAO:EHGR) to the civil airport of Carlisle (ICAO:EGNC) in northern England near the Scottish border. The amount of 250 persons (ground crews and pilots) moved along with the helicopters to their temporary base.

The annual TAC helicopter training is part of the syllabus and is focussed on flying under heavy radar threats. Due to the location in the United Kingdom, it is named TAC-UK.
In 2016, the helicopters trained in the UK, while in 2017 and 2018 this TAC training was held in the Netherlands and Belgium.

Low level under threat

During the TAC-UK exercise, the crews of the Cougar and Chinook transport helicopters train to fly as low as possible to evade radar tracking, while the Apaches train to take-out these radar stations. The exercise starts with single missions whereby the missions become more and more complex during the two weeks.

RAF Spadeadam

The RAF Spadeadam (ICAO:EGOM) training ground is named Electronic Warfare Tactics Range (EWTR) and is dedicated to electronic warfare training.
The range contains ground-based electronic warfare equipment to act as a simulated threat to train aircrews. Some of the equipment was manufactured in the Soviet Union; some simulated emissions from potential enemy systems. It also has real and dummy targets such as airfields, a "village" of portable buildings, tanks, aircraft and vehicle convoys.

Exercise Commander 

The exercise commander, lieutenant-colonel Niels van den Berg, is pleased to have this exercise in the United Kingdom again.

He says: “The Spadeadam range is by far the best European location to exercise in Electronic Warfare. Therefore we are very pleased to have our camp at Carlisle Airport, just 5 minutes away from the Spadeadam range where we can train in a mountainous environment. During these exercises on the Spadeadam range, the crews obtain their high valued training goals in a challenging terrain with a varied amount of radar threats”

Noise abatement

Next to different landscape with hills and valleys, compared to a flat country like the Netherlands; the location in the United Kingdom will offer the opportunity to migrate some helicopter noise away from the Netherlands. Especially during evasive manoeuvres with helicopters a lot of noise can be generated. On the RAF Spadeadam range, this noise can be absorbed easily.

Text: Dutch Air Force TAC-UK press-bulletin, wikipedia Spadeadam page
Photos: Mediacentrum Defensie, sergeant Jan Dijkstra
Translation: Joris van Boven and Alex van Noye

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