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TAC Blaze 13-1

            The rotary section of the Royal Netherlands Air Force once again deployed for their helicopter training under the banner of the exercise TAC Blaze. For over four years the Defence Helicopter Command of the Royal Netherlands Air Force have deployed units from its Gilze Rijen base to primarily carry out air crew training in conditions that replicate as near battlefield conditions as possible.

            To do this most of the flying takes place within the Electronic Warfare Range of RAF Spadeadam and to maximise time on the range and lower the time in transiting to and from the range the RNLAF set up a Forward Operating Base at the Stobart owned Carlisle Airfield.

This latest deployment saw four Apache AH64's of 301Sqn and three Chinook CH47's of 298Sqn with the Chinooks.

            At the same time that TAC Blaze takes place the Dutch Army in conjunction with the RNLAF conduct their own training within the same area with members of its 11th Air Mobile Brigade, who take advantage of the Helicopters to maintain their readiness and keeping its troops current in airborne operations. The deployment normally lasts for two weeks but this year this normally biannual event will last for three weeks and will encompass the Joint Warrior 13-1 during the last week of the deployment

            Along with the aircraft the RNLAF bring with them the following ground sections from the Air Force, engineering, communications, logistical, transport, meteorological and security. This is a part of the exercise which proves that a unit of the helicopter command can operate independently away from its home base.

            Utilizing its resources to the limit the RNLAF conduct a variety of air crew training under the TAC Blaze operations, including a Helicopter Weapons Instructors Course (HWIC) the rest included excising crews staying current, giving new crews the chance to multi mission, and the Apache crews gain mission currency.

            Consisting of some 330 personnel this latest deployment is the largest to date and all indications are that future TAC Blaze exercises will see an even bigger commitment. However due to a substantial review to taking place within the RNLAF later this year TAC Blaze will only be deploying once this springtime, but will revert to being bi annual in 2014.