31 Tigers welcome back two new Tactical Leadership Programme graduates

tlpAfter one year of absence in 2011, the Belgian Air Component deployed a mixed 10W – 2W detachment, from the 17th of January till the 10th of February, to Los Llanos Air Base Albacete, home of TLP since 2009.

The detachment contained 50 people including four pilots, two from 349 and two from our very own 31 ‘Tiger’ Sqn, one of which was the detachment commander.

The Tactical Leadership Programme (TLP) is an organization that was founded with the intention to give the participating pilots the opportunity to conduct Composite Air Operations (COMAO) in a complex, multinational environment.

During the four weeks course, the pilots executed 16 missions. Each of them had as purpose to increase the effectiveness of the Allied Air Forces through the development of leadership skills, mission planning and briefing techniques, tactical air operations and debriefing skills.

This edition of TLP had the largest number of participants since the beginning of the course in 1978. No less than 30 “Blue Air” jets from 7 different nations were lined up on the TLP apron.  Amongst these jets, 12 F-16s, French Rafales, Super Etendards and Mirage 2000C&D, Italian Typhoons and Harriers, Spanish F-18s and German Tornado’s.  The “Red Air” Forces were simulated by French Alpha-jets, Spanish F-18s and Italian Harriers. Depending on the scenario, occasionally, additional “Blue Air” forces were tasked to perform the role of “Red Air”.  This means that every day, more than 36 jets with different tasks were launched to bring a complex mission to a good ending.

At the beginning of each day, the pilots received a meteo briefing and an Intel update about the scenario. After that, the TLP Staff selected a “Mission Commander”, whose task as the “pilot in charge” was to coordinate the COMAO and to assign the tasks to the different flights. This phase was followed by about one hour and a half to brainstorm and to figure out a smart and safe game plan. Then during the mass brief the mission commander recapitulates everything to get all the pilots up to speed. The level of difficulty increased throughout the four weeks, with a peak during the third week when the ”night flight” week was scheduled.

During our period at TLP we also took time to honour Matthieu ‘Thieu’ Lamberigts, a dedicated Tiger crew chief for many years. He will retire in March, so this was his last launch during a deployment abroad.

Many thanks go out to our technical detachment, who were always ready and prepared to make sure that all five jets were fighting fit.

Conclusion: Two graduated ‘Tiger’ pilots, many lessons learned and four fantastic weeks at Albacete.