An RAF officer has overseen a major NATO exercise in Lithuania. The exercise, the first of its kind to be held in Lithuania, provided Close Air Support Training for several NATO Allies.
The exercise, known as Exercise Furious Wolf was planned and overseen by Squadron Leader Rich May from the RAF Regiment. Squadron Leader May is currently serving in Estonia with the Headquarters of the British led NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup.
During the exercise the ground based Joint Terminal Attack Controllers worked with RAF Typhoons and Spanish EF -18 Hornets that are currently based in Lithuania to develop Close Air Support skills. This involved the Fighters flying simulated ground attack sortie where they come under the control of the JTACs to accurately target their simulated strikes on targets.
“Opportunities for JTACs to work together are so vital; the teams can develop their skills in a safe environment with likeminded specialists and see how they operate with different equipment but working to the same NATO standard. The joy of the standardised nature for CAS for NATO JTACs, means we all speak the same language and understand the meaning of key words, even if English is not their first language.”
Squadron Leader May
Ex Furious Wolf saw JTACs from across the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland being exercised over three weeks, to provide coordinated Close Air Support using the aircraft from the NATO Air Policing Mission units based in Lithuania.
Squadron Leader May added:
“This Exercise gave us an opportunity to come together as NATO JTACs who are deployed in Lithuania, Poland and Estonia. The ability for JTACs to work closely with the Close Air Support aircrew to undertake the planning, briefing, execution and reporting phases massively increased our collective learning curve and continually improved both the JTAC and aircrew skills.”
“The benefit of doing this whilst on our respective NATO missions forged stronger relationships and trust between the JTAC and aircrew, providing the confidence to be ready should we need to be.”
Colonel Paul Clayton MBE, the Commander of the British Army led NATO Battle Group in Estonia a part of the NATO enhanced Forward Presence mission said: “I’m very proud of the leading role the British HQ in Tallinn played to organize this large-scale exercise.
“It was a great demonstration of the close cooperation amongst NATO Allies, and the interoperability between the Land forces across all the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroups and the Air forces who protect the skies as part of the enhanced Air Policing mission.”