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Wehrtechnische Dienststelle 61; Manching, June 20, 2007

Die Deutschland-Tour 2007: Teil 3; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

I visited the exercise Elite at Manching-Ingolstadt on Wednesday, June 20, 2007. The exercise Elite took place at Lechfeld, but the F-18's of the Swiss Air Force were based at Manching-Ingolstadt for this exercise. The F-18 Hornett of the Swiss Air Force would act as the aggressor during Elite.

The Technical Centre for aircraft and airworthiness “Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Luftfahrzeuge” (WTD-61) of the Bundeswehr belongs to the Federal Office of Defense for Technology and Improvement. The center is based at Manching-Ingolstadt in Bavaria in the southern part of Germany and was founded in 1957. WTD-61 is responsible for the safety of the people, the crews of the aircraft and the helicopters from Germany and for everything which can fly within the German defense department. WTD-61 is also responsible for staff training and sample testing of modifications to aircraft which are currently in use at the German Luftwaffe. This task requires that WTD-61 is involved in all national and international programs of the military manned and unmanned aircraft for the German armed forces. Cooperation takes place at national and international level with other defense components, military agencies, test centers, companies, research institutes and universities. The unit is based at its own airbase with two parallel runways. Aircraft from Manching which take-off can serve as a test bed for testing new or improved equipment. The WTD-61 aircraft from Manching fly several test missions at shooting ranges in Germany to test several new weapons.

WTD-61 is divided into several divisions for optimal performance. These divisions are all specialized in one aspect of aviation. Besides the technical and economic operating divisions with their administrative services, there are four divisions within WTD-61 with its own specialized competence, namely: Aircraft Engineering, Disks, Aircraft Avionics Equipment & Armament and Flight Control. The main tasks and skills of WTD-61 can be summarized as; processing research & technology projects, verification (Test & Evaluation), sampling inspection and approval, project consulting and operating from Manching airbase with the necessary test equipment. This last item means that Manching can be used by other parties for tasks such as; testing equipment including data analysis, using instrumented testing platforms for flight test engineers and finally training of personnel. For all of these tasks WTD-61 consists of

approximately 700 people and about 20 aircraft and helicopters for their tests. WTD-61 is covered by the Federal Office for Military Technique and Provision “Bundesambt für Wehrtechnik und Beschaffung” (BWB).

I arrived at Manching at 9 am. It was quite busy with people who also came to see the Hornetts which participated in the Elite exercise. The participating Swiss Hornetts flew as aggressors during the exercise, they didn’t operate from Lechfeld because of that. The weather today was great. The sun was shining and the sky was clear blue. This promised to be a beautiful summer day. The environment in which we stood was perfect. The background was very green. The departing aircraft would appear in front of a green forest. This improved the quality of the pictures; the aircraft came out very clear. The first engines were started soon on the platform behind the tree line. The complete mission consisted out of three F-18 Hornetts and one F-5F Tiger. The first two aircraft that appeared were a Hornett and an F-5F Tiger. Both aircraft waited a few minutes at the holding point before they lined up. I made a few photos on the taxi track of those aircraft. The light on those aircraft was truly beautiful. Both planes lined up on the runway and after a few minutes of waiting they gave both full throttle for take-off. Two more Hornetts appeared at the head of the runway after the departure of the first two aircraft. I made decent shots of all these aircraft during take-off. The light gray color scheme of the F-18s looked great in front of the green background. These two planes took off with full afterburner. A nice aircraft which I did not expect appeared at the head of the runway after the departure of the Swiss aircraft. A green Transall of WTD-61 taxied towards the runway. I could also make some beautiful shots of this big green machine. The prop blur looked great on photo because of the long shutter speed.

The Germans of WTD-61 flew well today, because two more aircraft would depart. Both departing aircraft were new to me. The first aircraft that appeared was a green Tornado of WTD-61. I had never seen a tornado of this unit. I considered this Tornado as one of my highlights of this visit to Manching. The Tornado was checked off on the typical German way before it entered the runway. The Tornado took off at Manching with a huge noise and full afterburner. The highlight of my visit to Manching appeared at the head of the runway after the departure of the Tornado. This time it was a German EF2000 Eurofighter. The aircraft which entered the runway was a prototype of the Eurofighter. The Eurofighter had the logo of the Eurofighter project EADS on its tail. The aircraft was completely loaded with marked armaments which are used for various tests. The Eurofighter is owned by EADS which is responsible for building this aircraft. The factory where the Eurofighter was built is based at Manching. The EF2000 was like the Tornado checked off by the ground crew. The aircraft taxied towards the runway after it was checked off. Once on the runway it took off very quickly.

The Swiss aircraft who had left earlier returned quickly to Manching. All the Swiss aircraft returned after a period of thirty minutes. First the F-5F came back. This aircraft was quickly followed by the three Hornetts. It was very easy to get good pictures of the landing aircraft. All the Swiss aircraft landed in a period of fifteen minutes. Only the Tornado and the Eurofighter had not come back. The Transall had already landed before the Swiss aircraft; it flew just a short sortie. The Tornado returned a short while after the Swiss aircraft. Unfortunately, the sun disappeared behind the only cloud we saw today during the landing of the Tornado. The picture of the landing Tornado was therefore darker. I had no time to wait for the Eurofighter. I would leave in the afternoon to Neuburg to catch the last Phantoms. This field is located near Manching and visiting both fields in one day is an excellent combination. The visit to Manching was a great visit. It brought many excellent photos of the Swiss and German aircraft.

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