APROC 2018 Gilze-Rijen Airbase

report by: Koen Wullus

Air Centric Personnel Recovery Operatives’ Course (APROC) 2018 was held between May 23rd and June 6th at Gilze-Rijen Airbase in the south western part of Netherlands. This exercice is held annually on different Airbases throughout Europe. A familiarization flight took place on Friday May 25th which saw three task forces training operational procedures in the Dutch airspace. 26 missions are planned to be flown from May 28 until June 6. Each day one mission will be flown in the afternoon composed of three task forces which all have their own exercise location.

Three are located in Belgium (Zoersel – provincie Antwerpen, Leopoldsburg – provincie Limburg en Ursel – provincie Oost-Vlaanderen) and Netherlands (Leusderheide – city of Leusden, Stroese zand – city of Barneveld, Ederheide – city of Ede, Crayel Heide – city of Venlo, Kruispeel and Weerterheide – city of Weert).

APROC exercise stakeholders came in their vast majority from Combined Joint Personnel Recovery Standardization Course (CJPRSC).The main goal of this exercice is  to educate and train Aircrews and Extraction Forces in the implementation of techniques and procedures for Personnel Recovery operations as a member of a combined and joint force. The exercice organisation and planication was led by the European Personnel Recovery Centre. This is a small Headquarter  consisting in Personal Recovery experts and  was formed in 2015 to improve the capacities of Europe in Personal Recovery.

For the 2018 course, Spain, France, Italy, Great Britain, Netherlands, Poland and Sweden deployed personnel and aerial assets . The extraction role were ensured by 2 Boeing CH-47D/F Chinook (KLU / 298 Sqn), 1 Aerospatiale AS532U2 Cougar (KLU / 300 Sqn), 1 Aerospatiale AS-332B1 Super Puma (Spanish Air Force / 803 Esc), Airbus Helicopter NH-90 NFH (French Navy / Flotille 31F), 2 Agusta Westland AW101 Merlin HC.3A (Royal Navy / 846 NAS), 1Agusta Westland EH-101A (Marina Militare / 1° Gruppo Elicotteri), 1 Agusta Westland HH-101A Caesar (AMI / 15° Stormo) and 1 Sikorsky Hkp.16A – UH-60M Blackhawk (Swedish Air Force /2.Hkpskv ) .

The Rotary Wing RESCORT role were provided by 2 Aerospatiale AS-555NN Fennec (AA / EH 05.067), 4 Boeing AH-64DN Apache (KLU / 301 Sqn) and 2 Mil-Mi 24V (Polish Air Force / 56. BLT ). The aerial assets deployed for this edition were Lockheed-Martin F-16AM (KLU / 312 Sqn) and Eurofighter EF-2000 (AMI / 36° Stormo) in the Fixed Wing RESCORT role.

The author had learned that the NATO reserve airfield of Ursel (Belgium) would play part in the seccond week of the ACPROC exercise and decided to give it a try on June 5.
The scenario of the day at Ursel was for PR people to pick-up two downed airmen. The scenario called for a scout – which the French Air Force Fennec was responsible for – and for a SAR helicopter, played by the special operations EH-101 of the Italian Air Force.
Unfortunately, no armed escort were part of the scenario.

In June 2019 the Course will be conducted at the Spanish Air Force Base Zaragoza. We expect to be able to produce this kind of report from spain next year!