In today's battlefields electronic warfare (EW) plays one of the most important roles in gaining air and ground superiority and a continuous evolution and improvements can be observed amongst all armed forces in order to gain an advantage over the enemy.
The aim is to stay undetected as long as possible and to employ the best adopted counter-measures and tactics against any kind of threat.
What? ELITE 2006
Where? Southern Germany
To train this expertise the annual Air Force exercise ELITE (Electronic Warfare Live Training Exercise) took recently in and around training area Heuberg in Baden-Württemberg, southern Germany, from the 4th until 18th May 2006.
Organized by the German Luftwaffe (GAF) this two and a half week lasting exercise aims to develop and test new tactical procedures in scenarios that come as close to reality as possible.
These scenarios are composed of the different aerial and ground weapon systems in order to further develop and screen tactical procedures as well as to train the participating personnel, of course without loosing sight of the intensification of international cooperation.
Polish Su-22 Fitter
Turkish F-4E Phantom
Spanish F/A-18C Hornet
British & German Tornados
Therefore ELITE is regarded by the participating personal that not only involves aircrews but also air defence forces and tactical air command and control personnel, as one of the highlights in their EW training.
Looking at the exercise as whatit is today it was first organized in 1995 with only GAF Tornados employed in the SEAD (Suppression of enemy air defence) role against ground threads. Since then it is held annually and the whole ELITE training scenario was in 2002 centred on the Heuberg range south of Stuttgart where ground-based air defence units from 10 different nations were based this time.
The main part of the flying participants was this year concentrated at the Lagerlechfeld airbase, home of the Jagdbombergeschwader JaboG32 (fighter bomber wing), that is equipped with ECR (Electronic combat and reconnaissance) Tornados and therefore specialized in EW. With more than two dozen participating jet aircraft from six different nations the airfield was packed with action, especially during the take-off slots for the daily attacks departing to the Heuberg range.
Fast & Low Flying Jets
Transport & Mission Aircraft / Helicopters
Well known participants at ELITE were besides the ECR Tornados the IDS (Interdiction strike) version of the German Tornado coming from the Aufklärungsgeschwader AG51 (reconnaissance squadron) and the Greek and Turkish HARM-shooting capable F-16s. The Turkish Air Force did also send F-4E Phantom 2020 for the air superiority rule to Lagerlechfeld.
Royal Air Force Tornado GR.4s of IX (B) Squadron were used to carry ALARM-missiles in the SEAD role, as did the Spanish EF-18A+ with their HARMs. It was the first time for the Spanish that they participated at ELITE with their Hornets, as it was a premiere for Polish Air Force as well that deployed with a Su-22M-4 and a Su-22-UM-3K two-seater Fitter. In preparation for future participation with their recently acquired F-16Cs they wanted to gasp the ELITE breath and already flew their venerable Fitters on the daily missions to get an insight view of the exercises main aspects.
Whereas the main part of 150 sorties per day was flown out of Lagerlechfeld, Manching airfield, which is located further to the north-east, was the home base of Swiss and Finish F/A-18 Hornets and ECM jamming Learjets of Phoenix Air and FRA Aviation Falcon 20s. Helicopters were based closer to the range at the Heeresflieger (Army Aviators) airfield Laupheim and the cargo aircraft at Penzing in the close neighbourhood to Lagerlechfeld.
After the familiarization phase the mission briefings among the dislocated participants were held using video conferences. After this the respective time slots of 20-40 minutes in the target area were allocated depending on the complexity of the desired scenario.
This could be only a small number of helicopters against mobile SAM missiles, ECR Tornados against SA-6, SA-8 or Patriot radar systems or a complex COMAO (combined air operation) involving jets, helicopters and transport aircraft…
And now enjoy the photos!
Of course I have to express a big "Thank you!" to everyone involved in the preparation of this article and for their excellent support on location!
ELITE Participants based at Manching (ETSL)
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