Home > Uncategorized > NATO Warplanes Train For Global Missions In Norway

NATO Warplanes Train For Global Missions In Norway

North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Allied Command Operations

September 6, 2013

Brillian Arrow Provides Realistic Training For Aircrew
SHAPE Public Affairs Office


One of the largest NATO air training events of the year, Exercise Brilliant Arrow, took place at Orland Airbase, in Norway from 25 Aug to 5 Sep 2013. The exercise challenged the approximately 650 exercise participants during a wide range of air missions conducted using approximately 50 military aircraft. Brilliant Arrow 2013 is the first live-fly exercise prepared and conducted by HQ AIRCOM, NATO’s single Air Command in Germany.

During the two-week exercise, aircrew from ten different countries trained for both offensive and defensive missions. The exercise is the first in a series of manoeuvres taking place this fall designed to hone the skills and interoperability of NATO Response Forces (NRF), and the focus was on maintaining air readiness and interoperability. Realistic and demanding multi-national exercises like Brilliant Arrow are essential in maintaining and enhancing the effectiveness of NATO’s deployable forces.

“These exercises will keep the alliance ready and prepared to respond to any future challenges,” said Dutch exercise-director Colonel Frank Gerards. “Brilliant Arrow trains the Air Component of the NATO Response Force to deploy quickly wherever needed,” he added.

NATO Response Force Training

According to Col. Gerards, Exercise Brilliant Arrow is one component of a wider program to train the NATO Response Force. Initial training is conducted by nations at home to ensure basic standards are met, followed by deployment and initial exercises in a multinational environment, such as Exercise Brilliant Arrow. The final component is a large combined multinational training event such as Exercise Steadfast Jazz which takes place in November of this year, he said.

“When we have successfully completed those three phases we will be ready for a whole year on NRF standby, ready to deploy if required,” said Col. Gerards.


Establishing effective command and control from HQ AIRCOM in Ramstein, Germany was a major objective for Exercise Brilliant Arrow. Col Gerards indicated that this had been achieved, which was noteworthy given that for most nations, this was the first time dealing with Ramstein as the sole Air Headquarters in NATO. He indicated that the successful deployment of aircraft and the integration of all assets into a multinational environment were other objectives that were successfully achieved during the training event.

Twice a day, aircraft took off from Orland, Norway to fly missions above the North Sea and the Norwegian mainland. Aircraft from Norway, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Turkey and the United Kingdom, participated in the exercise and in total they flew 534 sorties. Most of the participating countries flew the F-16s, while Germany employed Tornados and France utilised Mirage 2000 aircraft. The UK and France joined with AWACS aircraft and The Netherlands provided support with a KDC-10 air-to-air refuelling tanker. Several transport aircraft, helicopters, and ‘jammers’ also took part in the exercise. The role of the ‘jammer’ aircraft is to disrupt enemy electronic signals thereby hindering the opposing force in the execution of their mission.


The missions flown during the exercise were realistic and built on experiences from previous NATO missions. The scenario was challenging and those participating in the manoeuvres felt that a great deal was learned during Exercise Brilliant Arrow.

“As a younger NATO partner, this exercise offers us a lot of benefits,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Paul, a Polish F-16 pilot and detachment commander. “Taking part in missions with 40-50 jets and working together will improve everybody’s performances. Working in this international environment, planning, executing and debriefing every mission together allows us to gain experience with our NATO partners, something which I personally enjoy,” he said.

The scenarios covered a variety of different missions including creating no-fly zones and protecting civilians on the ground.

“Exercise Brilliant Arrow will hone the skills of allied air forces in orchestrating air operations,” said General Philip Breedlove. “This level of capability and interoperability will be needed if the involved units are activated under the NATO Response Force,” he said.

Air-to-air refuelling

Air-to-air refilling was another skill that was honed during the course of Exercise Brilliant Arrow. “The KDC-10 carries 70.000 litres of fuel to fill up some thirsty aircraft,” said boom operator Sergeant-Major Ad Aanraad. The airman from the Netherlands wears 3D glasses which he says makes it much easier to put the boom in the receptacle on top of the aircraft. “If the aircraft is stable and slow, it is like a walk in the park,” he said. “With 1750 litres a minute we can quickly fill up the aircraft and have them back in the mission.” According to Sergeant-Major Aanraad, air-to-air refuelling assets are highly needed to maximise NATO’s mission capability. “We were there at Operation Unified Protector to maintain the no-fly zone above Libya. With the air-to-air refuelling capability we were able to stay in the air much longer than the normal two hours,” he said.

Brilliant Results

In the opinion of the Exercise Director, the scenarios and missions conducted during Exercise Brilliant Arrow were wide-ranging and the overall event achieved all of its objectives. “I am proud to say that we are looking back on a successful exercise,” said Colonel Gerards. “We worked together in an international setting to integrate and standardize the various national contingents, which will enable us to respond swiftly to various types of crisis anywhere in the world,” he said.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: