Report: 22-1 Tactical Leadership Program Pilot Course

A Rafale FAF takes off for a TLP mission. (All images credit: Moshi Anahory)

We report on the first TLP flight course of 2022.

TLP 22-1, the first of this year, took place at the Base Aérea de Los Llanos, home of the Spanish Air Force Ala 14 and the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP), in Albacete, between February 14 and March 4. 2022. The flight course saw the participation of 560 participants, including 37 graduates including 30 pilots, 4 intelligence officers and 3 controllers.

TLP was born in 1978 as a seminar ensemble. Over the next few years, the program evolved to include flying lessons and to train pilots in tactical leadership in the conduct of multinational operations. Supported by the governments of 10 NATO members (Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom and United States of America), the objective of the TLP is to prepare NATO allied coalition forces in global tactical operations. air operations. This is achieved by preparing flight leaders to be mission commanders to lead coalition force airstrike packages; train allied aircrew and non-aircrew on all issues related to Tactical Composite Air Operations (COMAO); introduce new NATO partners and allies into NATO tactical air operations; and provision of tactical air expertise to NATO Agencies.

F-15E of the 48th Fighter Wing.

Over the years, the TLP HQ moved through Germany (Fürstenfeldbruck and Jever) and Belgium (Florennes) and finally ended up in Spain, in Albacete, in 2009. At the time, the NATO’s attention had shifted away from a potential conflict in Central Europe (a Russian conflict the invasion of Ukraine was not on the horizon…), so the TLP needed a staff and training areas more representative of the theaters of possible future conflicts. Additionally, the congested Central European air traffic made it difficult to accommodate the intense air activity associated with each route. Albacete was chosen for the most favorable weather conditions and the great airspace structure it offered.

An Italian Air Force Tornado ECR.

A number of academic courses and four pilot courses comprising COMAO, OPFOR, RMC (Rescue Mission Commanders) and C2/ISR, are held there each year to enable military pilots, GCI/AWACS controllers and ISR operators from the nations participants to become capable of conducting future complex operations.

Hellenic Air Force F-16

FC 22-1 saw the participation of a variety of combat aircraft from Spain, France, Greece, Italy and the United States, including Hornets from the Spanish Air Force , Mirage 2000B/C and Rafale B/C from the French Air Force, F- from the Hellenic Air Force. 16C, Tornado IDS and ECR aircraft of the Italian Air Force and F-15E of the US Air Force. In this article, you will find a selection of photographs of the participating assets, taken by aviation photographer Moshi Anahory.

More than a dozen American F-15E Strike Eagles took part in TLP 22-1.
French Air Force Mirage 2000

As usual, the means were divided into two teams – Blue Air (friendly forces), composed of 22 planes, and Red Air (enemy), composed of 8 planes – the crews carrying out a total of 12 missions:

  • Three “Synthetics” missions: planned as real sorties but performed in the TLP Synthetics system for plan validation. These missions are intended to familiarize participants with the planning process and COMAO procedures, to begin to develop leadership skills and to strengthen teamwork and cooperation between crews.
  • Nine Live Missions: These missions aim to inspire participants to develop the tactical leadership skills needed to plan, brief, lead and debrief fully integrated multinational formations.

Two E-3 AWACS provided air management and airborne early warning during the 2-week course: one from NATO and another from France, both operating from their home bases.

The simulation of the anti-aircraft threat was carried out by the Ejercito de Tierra with the NASAM and MISTRAL systems and by the French with MAMBA.

According to the TLP website (which is rich in resources and generally very well maintained): “With approximately 97% of planned outings executed, and while enjoying the beautiful Spanish winter weather, participants graduated after completing the program of the flight course Our graduates will now join their units and contribute to increased Alliance effectiveness through leadership at the tactical level.

Italian Air Force IDS Tornado.

David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the founder and editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the most famous and widely read military aviation blogs in the world. Since 1996, he has written for major global magazines including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft and many others, covering aviation, defense, warfare, industry, intelligence, crime and cyber warfare. He has reported from the United States, Europe, Australia and Syria, and has flown several combat aircraft with different air forces. He is a former Second Lieutenant in the Italian Air Force, private pilot and computer engineering graduate. He has written five books and contributed to many others.


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