A Swede, a Spaniard and a Brit…

One of the aims of exercise Loyal Arrow was to develop methods for international cooperation. When the German Air Force during the exercise asked the Air Operations Officer of the F 21 Wing, Mats Hakkarainen, if one of the Swedish pilots would like to join a mission that included aerial refuelling, they quickly got an answer.   – We hope to get training in aerial refuelling in the near future, so I thought it would be an excellent opportunity for one of our pilots to have that experience, says Mr. Hakkarainen.

On the last day of the exercise, the selected Swedish pilot climbed into the cockpit of one of the German Air Force Tornado aircraft. The mission that the Swedish pilot joined, consisted of three German Tornado aircraft with crew members from four different countries, – Sweden, Great Britain, Spain and Germany. Additionally, there were a further twenty-odd aircraft on this mission.

– Many NATO countries have exchange programmes with other Air Forces, when officers serve for three years in order to share experience and knowledge. This was really an international mission with three foreign pilots in the three German aircraft. Besides me, there was a Spanish F-18 pilot and a British navigator, says the Swedish pilot.

The aim of the mission that the Swedish pilot joined was to stop the enemy anti-aircraft weapons from hindering the other aircraft to operate in the battle area, so called Suppression of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD). The version of aircraft that the Swedish pilot flew in, Tornado ERC is specially built for this kind of mission. The aircraft will target the enemy anti-aircraft systems electronically, and then attack them with missiles that look for the transmitted signals, the AGM-88 HARM.

– It was a successful mission, and we did not have any casualties to the anti-aircraft defence, said the pilot.

Rapid Aerial Refuelling

After the mission, it was time to refuel from a US Air Force KC-135 before returning to the F 21 airbase. The refuelling was swift, and this was a surprise to the Swedish pilot.

– I think this was due to the experienced German pilot, Dieter Huber, he has flown the Tornado for more than 3000 hours.

Two hours later, the aircraft had landed, and the Swedish pilot had some new impressions to think about.

– On the one hand, we do not have any anti-radiation missiles in the Swedish Air Force. On the other, we have not started using aerial refuelling. To summarise, this mission was very interesting and gave me several lesson, says the Swedish pilot.