The annual ELITE exercise once again attracted a lot of exotic aircraft to southern German airfields in order to train electronic combat of ground and air-based weapon systems.With numbers such as 17 paticipating nations, 1500 soldiers, 45 jets, 13 helicopters and 13 transport aircraft it is no wonder that ELITE (Electronic Warfare Live Training Exercise) is the Luftwaffe's biggest exercise.
Where? Southern Germany
While providing a training field with main emphasis on electronic warfare ("EW") for ground based and air based weapon systems ELITE’s goal is to improve combat success and the sustainability of electronic combat, to train joint and combined operations, to raise the confidence levels of combat crews and last but not least to analyse the multiple techniques that have been used during the missions. The main airfield was once again Lagerlechfeld airbase, that hosted most of the participating aircraft. This year's newcomers were Romanian MiG-21 Lancer, the most sought photo subject besides the Polish Su-22s. Interestingly the MiGs participated in each mission with an IAI-built EW-pod. Additionally to the Lechfeld-based Luftwaffe ECR Tornados Italian and British ones were present, providing a direct comparison between all the subvariants of this European fighter aircraft. The most modern aircraft were seemingly Greek F-16 Bl.52 in the single and twin-seater version.
Swiss AF at Manching
Participants at Lechfeld
The main training area for ELITE is the Heuberg range, where the majority of the ground based weapon systems is based. Slots are allocated for the attacking jets that will then attack the range and ‘play’ with their ground based enemies. At any moment the current battle situation is recorded and allows a precise and püroductive de-briefing for the air crews and ground weapon operators. But not only jets do use the Heuberg during the two weeks, transport aircraft will also approach the area and train evasive manouvers as well as helicopters. Most impressive is the sight when the huge CH-53 turn around the trees, releasing chaffs and flares in order to protect themselves against hostile activities. Unfortunately around 70% of this year's planned missions had to be cancelled due to bad weather, but the organizers were nevertheless very satisfied with the preliminary results and hopefully the weather during next year's exercise will be better that will be held at the beginning of July. However, this shift is not due to the weather, but due to the European soccer championship. Official information can be found on the Luftwaffe site, and some more photos from recent years are available on this website (2005, 2006).
Fighters and Transport Aircraft
Tornados - fast and low
French Mirage 2000
Helicopters - even lower...
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