Tactical Leadership Programme 2005 Feature Report
Monday 3rd October - Friday 28th October
Ask any aviation photographer or aircraft 'spotter' if they have ever practiced their hobby in Belgium. If they says 'yes', there's a good chance that they've been to Florennes Air Base in Belgium. Situated in the Ardennes, Florennes is not only home to the 2nd Wing of the Belgian Air Force, flying the F-16, but it's also the location for one of the largest NATO exercises, which is held 5 times a year.
UKAR regularmade a trip across the border from The Netherlands to bring you this report. All photos by the author.
Named Tactical Leadership Programme, or TLP, the exercise was established in 1978 in reply to a demand for an exercise to improve tactics and procedures on a multi-national tactical level.
A year after having been established at the Southern German base of Fürstenfeldbruck, the TLP moved to a new German home in the North at Jever in 1979. At this time, the course was also extended from the original two weeks up to four.
In March 1989 the TLP finally moved on to its new home, Florennes, where it is held 5 times a year now.
As many might know there are actually 6 TLP exercises each year, but one session is always held at another (southern European) base due to the harsh Belgian winter and its associated weather, and to be able to fly at night with less restrictions.
Having talked about the history of TLP it's now time to move on to the interesting part for the aviaton enthusiast; the aircraft, of which one can normally expect 20 to 25 to take part.
Nations that have participated in the past are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.
Besides fast jets there are often support aircraft that operate from Florennes, their own homebase or often Eindhoven in the Netherlands. Such aircraft can include transport aircraft such as C-130s or Transalls but also various tanker, ECM and AWACS aircraft and helicopters for SAR duty and mission observation.
Each TLP exercise is divided into two periods, with extra aircraft arriving after the second week of the exercise.
The most recent TLP, 2005-5, which was held between October 3rd – 28th, saw the following participants:
- 2 x RAF Tornado GR.4's
- 2 x French Navy Super Etendards
- 4 x German AF F-4F's
- 2 x F-15C's from RAF Lakenheath
- 2 x F-15E's from RAF Lakenheath
- 4 x Italian AF Tornado's (2 ECR, 2 IDS)
- 2 x Italian AF AMX's
- 2 x French Air Force Mirage F1'ss
- 2 x A-10A's from Spangdahlem AFB
External assets during the second period were a pair of additional F-15C's. Unfortunately a Norwegian Falcon 20 and 2 French Air Force Mirage 2000's cancelled. A NATO E-3A, two RAF Hawks and an Italian AF Boeing 707 also participated during part of the exercise.
Sadly, this was already the fifth and last TLP exercise at Florennes this year, with the out of area session being planned at Gioia Del Colle, Italy.
The other TLPs this year have seen rarities such as Greek Phantoms and F-16s, Spanish Navy Harriers and Turkish F-16s, and even though this TLP didn't have such rare visitors, it still provides for a good day out. If you haven't been there yet I suggest you give it a try - you will be back for more after having been there once, guaranteed!