MAY 25,2016, FRITZLAR, Germany – Soldiers from Kampfhubschrauberregiment 36 “Kurhessen,” 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, and JägerBattalion 291, conducted a four day joint helicopter training exercise, “Strong Punch,” focused on electronic warfare detection and evasion techniques, May 17-20, at Heeresflugplatz Fritzlar.
Strong Punch is an exercise laboratory in which German and American aviators can evaluate and refine the effectiveness of their current tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP’s) in a threat environment that consists of real world, modern electronic warfare platforms (EW) and reconnaissance surveillance equipment.
The exercise began in 2013 when Staff Captain Thomas Müller and Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Sims had the idea to train together using the reconnaissance assets from JägerBattalion 291. Their goal was to cultivate the aviator experience base in their respective formations by flying training missions against an active opposing force.
Each day of the exercise brought a new scenario and focused on a different type of operation. The first day consisted of a screening mission and a forward passage of lines. The second day was an air interdiction. The exercise culminated in a search and destroy mission against a vehicle convoy.
The opposing force consisted of Bundeswehr Soldiers from the 4th Company, JägerBattalion 291, Deutsch-Französische Brigade out of Illkirch-Graffenstaden, Germany.
The 4th Company is organized as a reconnaissance company and operates as an independent reconnaissance unit. Their primary electronic monitoring system is the RASIT radar system mounted on a German Fox transport vehicle.
The RASIT radar is a ground surveillance pulse doppler system used to detect personnel, vehicles, and aircraft.
“Seeing the reconnaissance company shooting flares to simulate a surface-to-air missile strike was revealing,” said Capt. James Freeman, an AH-64 Apache pilot from HHC, 12th CAB. “You just can’t replicate that feeling of vulnerability from a simulator.”
This multinational exercise met several training objectives for Kampfhubschrauberregiment 36 who are building readiness as part of the European Battle group, and also 1st Bn., 3rd Avn. Regt. who are members of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).
The lessons learned in Strong Punch will further prepare the Vipers of 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, for Anakonda 16.
Exercise Anakonda 2016 is an upcoming Polish national exercise that seeks to train, exercise and integrate Polish national command and force structures into an allied, joint, multinational environment.