Austrian Air Force Eurofighters Train in Northern Germany

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The central European country of Austria is quite small, at nearly 83,000 square kilometers (or 32,000 square miles and roughly the size of the state of South Carolina); the possibility to train with its’ Eurofighters is very limited. So the government decided to do a joint exercise with the German Air Force.

The military’s airspace surveillance is designed to maintain the airspace of the Republic of Austria, and in particular to maintain or restore the country’s sovereignty.  If the enforcement of the sovereignty is necessary with the use of arms, this must also be trained and practiced.

For safety reasons, air-to-air shooting in Austria is not possible, therefore the exercise at northern Germany’s Wittmund Air Force Base served as the preservation of the “operational” qualifications for the Austrian pilots. In 2014, the Luftwaffe of the Republic of Austria had already participated in an exercise at the Sardinian air base of Decimomannu in Italy with five Eurofighters.

“In 2007, Austria purchased after a long struggling process 15 Eurofighter Tranche 1s (nine new and six former German Luftwaffe ones) as a replacement for their outdated Saab J-35 Drakens, which are stationed with the Surveillance Wing in Zeltweg/Steiermark,  in southern Austria. Its Air Force has 14 pilots and flies about 1200 hours a year. Depending on the requirements, 25-40 hours are available in the simulator for each pilot.”

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During the training in Wittmund, the Austrian Air Force sent seven aircraft, twelve pilots and one hundred thirty personnel, as well as fifteen trucks filled with equipment for fourteen days of use to Northern Germany. From the tires to the engine, everything that could be needed for a Eurofighter for this period had been brought to Wittmund. Thus, the flight operation for this period was ensured without depending on the German Air Force. Five of the Eurofighters were put in HAS-loop West, while two further Eurofighters were placed in a maintenance hangar. The deployment was prepared to work on two aircraft at the same time should it be necessary. The contingent command was headed by Colonel Doro Kowatsch, an experienced pilot with many flight hours in the Saab J-35, and currently in the  PC-7 trainer.

The period of the exercise was from 24th April – 19th May 2017; the first Eurofighter landed on 27th April 2017 at Wittmund and the departure was scheduled for the 16th of May 2017. On May 10th 2017, the shooting finished and the remaining flight hours were used for training purposes in the north of Germany.

During the exercise, each day two missions were planned with four aircraft each, one mission in the morning at 10:00 AM and one mission in the afternoon at 2:00 PM, each mission lasted about ninety minutes. Sixty-five sorties were flown, supported by the Eurofighters of the German Air Force’s Tactical Wing 71 “R” and A-4N’s from Discovery Air Defense Service, these almost all took place over the North Sea.

For the support and help in making this article, I’d like to thank Uwe Cremer from the TaktLWG 71 “R” and Major Robert Friess of the Surveillance Wing from Zeltweg.

Copyright cover photo Bundesheer/Gradauer

Copyright picture 17-19 Klemens Hoevel/Germany

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Peter Boschert

Peter is a photographer covering events in the United States and in Europe. He likes to cover Nellis AFB, NAS Fallon and RAF Lakenheath.

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