HWIC/TAC helicopter exercise
From februari 5 to 23, the Royal Netherlands Air Force exercises flying low with helicopters. There are two kinds of exercises: Helicopter Weapons Instructor Course (HWIC) and TAC (tactical) exercises. Usually the helicopters have most of their exercises in the south of the Netherlands, like in the neighbourhood of Oirschot. This time the exercises are east of the line Terlet – Meppel – Assen. For the exercises there is permission to fly at a 100 feet or even lower when the mission requires to. Five Chinooks, three Cougars and five Apaches are participating in the exercises.
Deelen air base
For these exercises the helicopters and crews are temporarily stationed at Air Base Deelen. Deelen started as a satellite airfield for Soesterberg, which was used by the Luchtvaartafdeeling, back in 1914. When the Germans invaded, the field was demolished to avoid use by the Germans. This didn’t stop the Germans from building Deelen as the largest air base on Dutch territory. From 1951 to 1957 and 1963 to the closing of the air base 1995 the Groep Lichte vliegtuigen was stationed at Deelen. This group started using helicopters in 1955. Since Soesterberg closed in 2009, Deelen is operational again as Air Base, but there are no units stationed at Deelen. Helicopters often visit the Air Base for exercises with the Air Mobile Brigade which has some units stationed close to Deelen.
Many things can be practiced with simulators, but real exercises are also needed to prepare for operational missions. The TAC exercises are used to train the crews for tactical flying and tactical instruction. Exercises are to approach targets unnoticed. Often flying low is required for this, and thus it is used a lot during the exercises. The HWIC exercises are to train new weapon instructors. After finishing the course the weapon instructors are able to train crews.
Not everybody is happy with the low flying helicopters. The helicopters make a lot of noise. Many people complain that pets and cattle get scared by the noise. The peacocks and pheasants of billionaire Hans Melchers are disturbed so badly by the helicopters, that he decided to start summary proceedings to stop the exercises.
In the gallery below to find a series of photo’s of the exercises taken at De Haere near Olst. Some of these photo’s are for sale in my webshop.