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TAC Blaze 11-1 

    Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), Defence Helicopter Command again deployed elements of their rotary wing for the latest TAC Blaze exercise at Carlisle Airport Cumbria. The airfield has been a favourite of the RNLAF for a number of years now because of its close proximity to the RAF Electronic Warfare Range at Spadeadam and is an ideal place to set up a FOB from which to operate from. Owners of the airfield Stobbart Air who are a subsidiary of the transport group, have hosted various exercises from their airfield and have given assurances of long term support to the RNLAF for future deployments.

 

          This latest deployment is likely to be the last large scale one by the Dutch to Carlisle as like so many counties the global recession is forcing numerous countries to make major cut backs within their defence budgets. The Netherlands recently reviewed their defence budget and announced cuts within its Air Force which will affect the likes of the TAC Blaze exercises. However as TAC Blaze is a succession of training assignments designed to continually improve crews, itís unlikely to be axed rather scaled back utilizing fewer aircraft.

A CH47 is under attack from an electronic threat on the Spadeadam range to which it promptly ejects chaff to obscure its radar signature

Mobile weather station enabling the accompanying meteorological unit to supply up to date forecasts Mobile unit keeping the deployment in direct contact with their base in the Netherlands Dutch Army utilise another training sortie to accustoming themselves to the aircraft

A busy scene in a corner of Carlisle airfield above CH47 manoeuvres to parking slot, Below the deployments mobile contingent allowing the exercise to be totally self contained

      Upon arriving at Carlisle and before the exercise could start all the aircrews had to under go a brief on using the UK Low Flying areas. This was given by an RAF officer from Leeming on the does and doníts and how to book into the system. Within and hour of the brief the first mission was airborne and en route to Spadeadam. Bookings on the range at the present time are at a premium which meant that the RNLAF would have to the bookings made prior to travelling to the UK. The effect of this prevented the RNLAF from extending or changing any of their slots compounded by the fact that their operations ended at 19:00 hrs each day made sure they were focused on the training tasks ahead.

      The two weeks exercise was to be split with a rotation of crews after one week unfortunately the weather deteriorated and one day was completely lost due to high winds this coupled with a couple of technical problems meant that at the end of the two weeks a few members of air crew would require to top up.

RNLAF even brought there own electronic treats which simulated the lock of a missile on the aircraft Final checks made the loadmaster prepares to board Aircraft art in the Form of Felix the cat on one of 300Sqns Cougars the life belt & 100 shows that the squadron have made that number of Search & Rescue missions