“During Falcon Autumn 22, the Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command and the 11th Air Mobile Brigade staff have worked together in unison with the our colleagues from the Polish 1st Air Cavalry Battalion and the US 12th Combat Aviation Battalion. The scenario during the exercise was built around a simulated invocation of NATO’s Article V, applying the principle of collective defence, which is at the very heart of the Transatlantic Alliance,” said Lieutenant Colonel Roy Hemmelder, Commander Air Task Force during Falcon Autumn.
The Netherlands brought their NH-90 maritime helicopters, AH-64 attack helicopters, CH-47 and AS-532 transport helicopters to the exercise to fly alongside Polish Air Force Mi-8 helicopters and U.S. Army UH-60 Blackhawks. Close cooperation among the three nations and the Royal Netherlands Ground Forces enabled combined multi-domain action across the whole spectrum of airmobile missions.
All three nations’ rotary wing assets were involved in large-scale operations practicing cargo and personnel transport and drops, underslung load missions, forward arming and refueling point operations and engagement of targets on the ground.
Week three of the annual exercise Falcon Autumn was focused on conducting complex air assault operations on the coast between Amsterdam and Rotterdam. The goal of air assault operations may be establishing a bridgehead and they are part of the basic skills of airmobile troops. Using a combination of firepower, speed and surprise, assault and transport helicopters are employed to drop airborne infantry troops e.g. to prepare extraction or rescue mission for own forces.
“I was impressed by the unity of effort we all demonstrated and by the variety of opportunities we exploited during this multinational exercise,” said Lieutenant Colonel Hemmelder. “Opportunities that strengthen our ties, improve interoperability and increase combined effectiveness in a complex mission environment. Ultimately this exercise enables us as NATO Allies to react more rapidly and effectively when called upon to protect our security and values,” he concluded.