Last Friday, March 12th, the presentation of the ETAP-C 21-1 took place to the local media at the military airfield of Lanzarote. It is the first flying project of the European Air Transport Training Program (ETAP) that will be conducted this year. The last project has been executed in February 2020 in Zaragoza. All other planned projects in Bulgaria, France and Spain had to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 situation.
The presentation was given by the Commander of the European Tactical Airlift Center (ETAC), Colonel Fernando Raimundo Martínez and by the Colonel Nicolás Ramírez Arregui, who is the head of the Military Aerodrome of Lanzarote; the airfield where on this occasion the project is being hosted. Colonel Ramírez Arregui explained the reasons that have led the Air Force to choose the Lanzarote Military Aerodrome (AML) as the best location to carry out this ambitious ETAP project, taking into account the current pandemic scenario. The insular environment of the Canary archipelago, together with the decisive logistical and operational support of the personnel in charge of AML, have been aspects that tipped the balance to relocate this project from its traditional execution place, Zaragoza Air Force Base. Colonel Raimundo explained that running this night training in an island environment and with novel aspects compared to previous courses, makes ETAP-C 21-1 an extraordinarily demanding project, but at the same time especially attractive.
Indeed, the maximum number of slots allowed for night courses are completed with the participation of four nations (Germany, Denmark, Italy, and Spain) and their aircrafts. In addition, Switzerland attends with an observer joining the Combat Control Team (CCT). The course, in its LIVEX phase, runs from March 14thto March 26th. All involved aircrafts had already been arrived throughout the weekend. It is planned that they will take part in this ETAP-C European Tactical Airlift Program-Course coordinated and directed by the ETAC. In total 120 people, including crews and support personnel will participate in the project. This course is the first flying project in the ETAP’s annual calendar of activities for 2021 and will consist on 7 flight missions of varying complexity within a demanding scenario. All flights will be carried out at night. The aircrews will wear Night Vision Goggles (NVG) while operating in a simulated semi-permissive scenario, training assault shots and tactical approaches on short runways as demanding as those of La Gomera and El Hierro.
What is more, loading and off-loading operations of the aircrafts with the engines running (ERO) and combat off-loading will be performed in Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, also infiltration and exfiltration of units between islands, simulated dropping of personnel and cargo in different places, HI-LOW-HI flight profiles with land and air threats and defensive threat reaction maneuvers against enemy fighter planes., The project will conclude with a Composite Air Operation (COMAO) mission including Personnel Recovery procedures. The course program has been slightly modified to reduce to the maximum extent a community contagion by adapting the standard procedures for joint inspection and cargo dropping with a preventive procedure against COVID-19 and also by simulating the launching of personnel. On March 25th, a Distinguished Visitors Day (DVD) is scheduled as well as the graduation ceremony for the participants.