The Norwegian Air Force tested their limits in Spain
Norwegian forces have taken part in an intensive tactical airlift course in Spain.
Just on the outskirts of Zaragoza, in the Aragon region in Spain, lies Zaragoza Air Base. A former United States Air Force Base, now operated by the Spanish Air Force. Its location – with vast rolling hills, deserts, improvised landing strips and live firing ranges in close proximity – makes it a perfect location for the European Tactical Airlift Centre's (ETAC) Tactical Airlift Programme Course (ETAP-C).
The latest rendition of the course hosted partner nations such as Norway, Belgium, France, Germany, and Czechia. Norway attended the course with one C-130J Hercules, two crews and ground personnel. The importance of the course shines through the crew members.
"This course forms the foundation we need for executing the most challenging operations we must be able to manage", says Lieutenant Fredrik Grøndahl, pilot on board the Norwegian C-130J Hercules.
Lieutenant Grøndahl explains that they are a highly diverse crew on board and on the ground. They must function together to be able to accomplish tasks that are not possible in other aircraft.
"At this course we push the aircraft to the limits of what the machine is capable of."
Flying against multiple threats is a challenging experience. The dynamic nature of flying requires pilots and crew members to adapt continually. Every day, different scenarios are presented. They demand quick thinking and immediate responses.
"At this course we push the aircraft to the limits of what the machine is capable of when we practice flying against both fighter jets and ground threats – deep into hostile territory."
For the Norwegian 335th Squadron, this course gives the crew and mission support highly relevant training making sure that all the different roles abord the aircraft are synchronised, operational and ready. The primary goal of the course is to equip the crews to handle a wide range of situations and scenarios effectively.
Commander of the 335th Squadron, pilot and ETAC-instructor, Lieutenant Colonel Harald Grindheim, explains that these scenarios encompass the full spectrum of challenges they may face in actual operational situations.
"This course put our crew through all the different scenarios and high-pressure situations tailored to the types of missions that may be pertinent in times of crisis and war", he says.
Previously, the partner nations would have to go the USA to attend a similar course. But since 2012, ETAC has been bringing allied crews and aircraft to Spain. Since then, the organisation has graduated over 86 crews and 150 instructors.
"Training like this helps strengthen cohesion and the ability to operate alongside a variety of European partner countries, across borders and different aircraft types. We learn from each other's experiences, challenge one another, and build a shared understanding", says Grindheim.