CRUZEX 2013 – NATAL Air Base

Report by; T. LETELLIER


Between November 4th and 15th the new edition of Cruzex took place in Natal, over the areas known as Rio Grande de Norte and Pernambuco. During  Cruzex 2013 eight countries participated with over 90 airplanes. The Cruzeiro do Sul Exercise (CRUZEX) is a multinational exercise organized by the Brazilian Air Force. . Except for 2002 and 2006, all the editions took place at the Natal Air Base. This base has a perfectly adaptated structure to conduct such an exercise, as well as favourable climatic conditions.

Cruzex is designed to give the opportunity to a multiple country task-force to operate under an unified control and command system. The first Cruzex came after a Brazilian Air force participation  in a French military aviation exercice named Odax . The main senario of Odax was to simulate a regional  armed conflict between 2 neighbour nations. All the aspects of a new type of war were studied to make the exercice to stick on the reality.

The Joint Force Air Component Command (JFACC) had his  headquarter at Natal air base. Operating from Natal air base with many of the fighter types housed in sun shelters, the participating air forces were composed of Two Canadian Lockheed C-130J Hercules not as transport, but this year the exercise will also include specific missions for transport aviation, such as airborne special forces launching.

Fife Chilean Lockheed Martin F-16A Falcons ; Six Colombian Cessna A-37 Dragonfly From Barranquilla in the north of Colombia .The trip lasted for two days, with one night spent in Manaus. In the two flight segments in a row, the KC-767 refuelled five times each of the six A-37 Dragonfly; Ecuador sent four Embraer Super Tucano aircraft ; Uruguay sent a three Cessna A-37B Dragonflies and a three of FMA IA-58 Pucaras, while Venezuela contributed with fife Lockheed Martin F-16A. It was the very last occasion to see those venerable Falcons in their very smart camouflage because their operationnal time arrived at the end two month later … To complete the list ; the USAF was represented by DC ANG with 6  F-16 C/D .

Brazil participated with the largest force drawn from different squadrons of the air force . Operating from Natal were five Dassault Mirage 2000 in their last month of operating for the Brazilian air force. Eighteen Lockheed F-5EM Tiger IIs, twelve Embraer A-1A, A-1B, A-1A reconnaissance AMX, four Embraer A-29 Super Tucanos; two Lockheed C-130 Hercules and two Casa C-105 Amazonas. Next to the fixed wing aircraft a helicopter force participated including one Aerospatiale H-34 Super Puma, one Bell H-1H Iroquois; four Sikorsky UH-60L Blackhawks and new to the exercise where three AH-2 Sabre Mi-35 acting in the Special Operations Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) role. The weather did not fully play the role , with an incredible amount of clouds and strong winds, day after day it was the same situation. It was the only negative aspect of my stay.