Air Combat and Refueling in the Baltic Airspace
The Hungarian Gripens practiced air combat and air-to-air refueling at the NATO Baltic Region Training Event (BRTE) held for the 22nd time. The Hungarian pilots were training together with British, Finnish, Polish, German, Norwegian and Swedish aircrews in order to strengthen relations between allies and partner nations and make cooperation even more effective.
The Hungarians involved in the tasks of the Baltic Air Policing Mission flew missions under various scenarios at the two-day event. As part of the dissimilar air combat training (DACT), they engaged Finnish F–18 aircraft in different scenarios both as “blue” and “red” forces, mostly during beyond visual range (BVR) air combat in two-on-two, two-on-one and one-on-one situations. Conducted against aircraft of dissimilar types, DACT is a key element in the pilots’ continuous training program, being indispensable for sustaining effective air policing capability. The situations of scripted scenarios largely influenced the outcome of the air battles, but during the two days the Finnish and Hungarian pilots played a lot of tricks on each other, so they have learnt a lot of useful lessons.
The varied character of the training event conducted in the airspace of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is well shown by the fact that the Gripen fighters executed several tasks after a single take-off, so they practiced air-to-air refueling as well, before or after the air combat. Air-to-air refueling is a very complex task that requires extraordinary concentration and care. This summer the pilots of Kecskemét were qualified for in-flight refueling from tanker aircraft, so they now also needed this training to be able to maintain their skills.
Besides the above-mentioned two types of tasks, the Hungarians – who are being deployed in Lithuania for four months – rehearsed the usual air policing tasks as well, including the interception, escort and forced landing of an aircraft that had lost radio communications. Conducted in every year, the NATO BRTE also involved the search and rescue (SAR) units of the Lithuanian air force, which were practicing the rescue and treatment of aircrew in distress as well as ejected and wounded pilots.
At the BRTE, the Hungarian servicemen performed excellently and gained new experience in an international environment. The common training event has contributed to strengthening the defence capabilities of NATO and Hungary, and demonstrated that the Alliance pays special attention to the security of the Baltic region.
Lt. Andor Gyeginszky
Photos: Lt. Dr. István Toperczer, Filip Modrzejewski and BAP