Fire Blade 2022 multinational helicopter tactical exercise

Fire Blade helicopter exercise
Hungarian Mi-24 Hind lies a training mission as part of the Fire Blade 2022.

The Fire Blade 2022 (FB22) is the 16th helicopter exercise organized under the European Defense Agency (EDA) Helicopter Exercise Program and the 2nd Fire Blade edition conducted by the Hungarian Air Force (Magyar Légierö). This exercise was held between June 07th and June 24th 2022.

A total of 25 flying assets (20 helicopters + 5 fixed wing) and some 550 military personnel from five participating countries – Austria, Belgium, Slovenia, Slovakia and organizer Hungary – participated in the exercise.

The participating forces deployed at Papa airbase in Hungary (ICAO code: LHPA), and the missions were planned south of the airbase in 2 large exercise areas close to lake Balaton. Taking care of the concern of reducing their impact on the environment and population.

They have flown diverse day and night COMAO (Composite Air Operations, large missions with various types of numerous aircraft/helicopters) missions and have executed, among others:

- Air Assault;
- Special Operations Aviation (e.g. fast rope techniques; insertion/extraction and air-to-surface firing);
- Combat Service Support;
- Close Air Support;
- Convoy/helicopter escorts;
- Reconnaissance and Surveillance;
- Combat Search and Rescue;
- Personnel Recovery;
- Medical Evacuation and Casualty Evacuation.

The main objective of the exercise was to allow crews to practice operations in various environments during day and night sorties, replicating the challenging conditions that participant forces are expected to encounter when deploying to different theaters of operation.


The Helicopter Exercise Programme (HEP) is part of EDA’s wider helicopter portfolio aimed at providing Member States with a joint European framework to develop, consolidate and share best practices to meet the challenges of flying helicopters in a modern operational environment. Other components of this portfolio are the Helicopter Tactics Course (HTC) programme, the Helicopter Tactics Instructor Course (HTIC) programme and the future Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC).

Media visit June 20th and 21st 2022

A media visit was organized for 2 days, on June 20th and 21st. 
On June 20th, a Hungarian Mi-24 HIND flight was organized during the morning, to participate in one of the national trainings. The local flight was a training flight for Hungarian Special Forces (SOF) sniper exercise onboard the MI-24. The helicopter boarded the snipers and flew to the training area close to Lake Balaton, where the snipers trained to shoot from an unstable helicopter in the air, compensating for the downdraft of the rotor blades.

During the afternoon, a Hungarian Mi-17 HIP flight was organized with a Hungarian SOF unit that was deployed to the ground in a training area close to Lake Balaton. There the unit observed enemy positions. And because enemy forces wounded a SOF colleague, a Belgian A109 had to fly a MEDEVAC mission to get the wounded soldier out of the area. After the operation, the SOF unit was recovered by a Belgian NH90 and a Hungarian Mi-17. In the background, two Hungarian H145s performed gunnery exercises at the nearby firing range.

On June 21st, another media flight onboard a Hungarian Mi-24 was organized, to photograph the rehearsal of the COMAO demonstration for the Distinguished Visitor Day in the "Ruin City", at the Újdörögd training area. That area was specially prepared to exercise urban warfare with helicopters.
During the afternoon, the actual COAMO demonstration for the Distinguished Visitor Day was performed from the ground. After the demonstration, many helicopters landed in the streets of “Ruin City" for photos and interviews.

Participating aircraft and helicopters

Hungary: MI-17 Hip, MI-24 Hind, Airbus H145, Saab JAS-39 Gripen (flying from their homebase Kecskemét (ICAO:LHKE))
Belgium: A109, NH-90
Slovakia: Sikorsky UH-60
Austria: Pilatus PC7, Bell OH-58 Kiowa, Agusta-Bell AB212
Slovenia: Eurocopter AS-532


Observers to this exercise were present from: Italy, France, Bulgaria, the Netherlands, Greece, Switzerland and Czechia.


Interview with exercise director Colonel Zoltan Rolko of the Hungarian Air Force. Colonel Rolko (callsign ROKA) joined the Hungarian Air Force in 1986.

According to Colonel Rolko, the Fire Blade exercise is the only major helicopter exercise in Europe, where helicopters can exercise in large COMAO formations. The Fire Blade exercise started with familiarization flights and during the weeks the exercises became more and more difficult and complex. The Rules of Engagements (ROE) were tightened, thread levels were increased, Electronic Warfare increased and more ‘surprises’ were added to the exercise.

"Fire Blade is the best choice for multinational tactical helicopter training in Europe, because it focuses on tactical speciality to be in a multinational environment," he said.

Fire Blade helicopter exercise

Fire Blade helicopter exercise

Fire Blade helicopter exercise

Fire Blade helicopter exercise

Fire Blade helicopter exercise

Fire Blade helicopter exercise

Fire Blade helicopter exercise

Fire Blade helicopter exercise

Fire Blade helicopter exercise

Report by Joris van Boven and Alex van Noije

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