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TAC Blaze 2009


       TAC Blaze 2009

    300 Squadron

   Koninklijke Luchtmacht

    Deployment at Carlisle


The exercise was originally planed to involve three types of Helicopters from the rotary wing of the RNAF and was intended to have C47ís Apache & Cougar helicopters taking part in air assaults on and around the Electronic Warfare range at Spadeadam. However due to various commitments and constraints on aircraft the exercise continued on a much smaller scale than first planned, with just Four Aerospatiale AS 532 Cougar helicopters of 300Squadron from Gilze-Rijen. 300 Sqn use the AS 532 Cougar helicopters for transporting personnel and equipment, also itís utilised by the Dutch special assistance units. The aircraft has proved its value in recent years playing a large role in support of the military around the world and presently in Afghanistan.


The aim of the deployment to Carlisle along with the exercise was to enable the unit to prove that it can operate away from its home base and be self sufficient. The objective of the exercise was to teach and test a number of new pilots with a variety of tasks. These included quick stops and carrying under slung loads, these operations took place on Carlisle airfield. Low level flying and map reading took place on and around the Spadeadam range. Whilst there the crews were also introduced to the electronic warfare aspect of Spadeadam, by being targeted by a wide array of threats, to which the crews could respond by using their counter measures.


As the exercise unfolded the crews were seen putting their new skills to the test by carrying out simulated SAR missions for downed aircrew. Also with the involvement of ĎAí Company of The Mercian Regiments troops were transported as part of an Air Mobile Unit sortie. On average three sorties a day were achieved and ensuring that the exercise on the whole was a success. This was despite a late start due to the Helicopters having to submit to stringent safety checks on the tail rotors, following the recent fatal crash in the North Sea of a Super Puma on an unrelated Oil Rig flight. Another day was lost when the weather prevented their transit to Carlisle due to poor visibility forcing the flight to overnight stop at Lakenheath

Back on the ground the supporting crew were honing their ability to maintain and operate in a remote location. They also brought with them a number of C47 Load Masters who where making their final preparations prior to future deployments abroad.

 In the past the Cumbrian airfield has played host to a number of deployments but at this moment it is under development by its new owners The Eddie Stobart Group. It is hoped that even after the airfield is developed deployments and military use will still be encouraged.