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Exercise NRF Brilliant Ardent 2010; Wittmundhafen, April 13, 2010

The NATO Responce Force Units; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

After a successful day at the Leeuwarden air base for the exercise Frisian Flag, today the exercise Brilliant Ardent 2010 was on the program. This exercise took place over the northern part of Germany and I would attend this exercise from the German Phantom base Wittmundhafen.

The exercise Brilliant Ardent 2010 (BAT 10) is a massive exercise of the NATO Response Force (NRF). This Air Live Exercise (Air LIVEX) is this year hosted by Germany in the period from April 12, 2010 until April 22, 2010. Several air forces are involved in the exercise, namely: Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Turkey and the United States. BAT 10 missions will be managed and controlled from Izmir in Turkey by the Allied Air Command. Over sixty aircraft of different types from the participating countries will participate in this exercise. The participating aircraft are fighters, attack planes, helicopters, tankers and Airborne Early Warning aircraft and they will operate from several air bases in Germany, the Czech Republic, France, Poland and the United Kingdom. The French Navy will also participate in this exercise with their aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle from the North Sea. The majority of the participating aircraft is based at airfields in the northern part of Germany. There is a tactical deployment of the Theatre Missile Defense Centre (TMD) and the Ground-Based Air Defense Centre (GBAD) present at the exercise.

The purpose of Ardent Brilliant 2010 is the training, testing and integration of various air forces to prepare for the NRF 15. The command structures of various air forces during the exercise are adapted to each other in a challenging and realistic scenario. The exercise is also open for "non NRF" Air Force units within the NATO. Brilliant Ardent is an excellent training for the Partnership for Peace (PfP) nations. The exercise scenario is based on a UN mandate which is coordinated by the NATO Crisis Response Operation (CRO) which is placed in a fictitious geopolitical setting. This scenario is especially designed for this exercise to promote cooperation between different countries in such conflicts. The NRF concept offers the Alliance a robust set of capabilities to provide security in an environment of the 21st century executed by a skilled and flexible unit. This enables the NRF to operate anywhere in the world within

a very short period. They can operate when this is required by the North Atlantic Council. The NRF consists of land, sea and air forces from the participating nations and will be held on a rotational base. Training is essential for this kind of operations. It is only possible through exercises such as Brilliant Ardent 2010 that NRF units can be certified as operational, well trained, capable and ready for the NRF mission.

I arrived at Wittmund air base at eight AM and the base was already quite active. The first wave of six Phantoms was already airborne. The air base was using runway 08 because today the wind was blowing from the northeast. Therefore I decided to position myself halfway the runway during the morning flights. At Wittmund it is possible to walk along the fence parallel at the main runway. The distance between the fence and the runway is about sixty or seventy meters. Wittmund is known for its excellent photography opportunities and again this was confirmed by my photographs of today. Wittmund is also the only base in Western Europe which is still operational with the good old F-4 Phantom. The F-4 Phantom will be replaced at this base by the modern Eurofighter Typhoon within two or three years. The aircraft which took off came loose from the ground just in front of me because I was halfway down the runway. This brought me some spectacular action shots of the departing aircraft. There were four French Mirages present at Wittmund during the exercise Brilliant Ardent; two Mirages from Istres and two from Luxeuil. Besides the French, there were also five Turkish F-16's present of the Turkish Diyarbakir airbase. The Turkish F-16's were from no 182 Filo and they were marked with the eagle on the tail of the aircraft.

The first engines were started for the exercise Brilliant Ardent one hour after I arrived at Wittmund. Four Turkish F-16's and four French Mirage 2000's and a number of Phantoms moved slowly towards the runway. The first participant which took-off were the Turkish Vipers. Unfortunately the F-16's were already quite high when they passed me. After the Turkish F-16's the French Mirages went airborne with full afterburner. The Mirages flew significantly lower than the Turks when they passed me. This brought me the spectacular action shots that I had in mind. The Mirages came loose from the runway just in front of me. The Phantoms were much slower during their take-off and they also stayed very low which brought me some outstanding photos. It became quiet at Wittmund after this take-off wave. After a while a German Lynx reported for a low approach. This was a very special moment for me because you don't see these helicopters in the Netherlands. The first aircraft reported for landing after more than sixty minutes. As a bonus a fifth Mirage 2000N arrived straight from France. All the participants of the exercise were back within thirty minutes.

I positioned myself next to the fence at the head of the runway for the afternoon flight. It is possible to take photographs of aircraft which enter the runway from a distance of fifty meters. I had to wait for a long time before the afternoon flight would leave. The exercise was planned to continue at four PM. In the meanwhile the local Phantoms flew many missions, so there was more than enough action at this base in the meanwhile. Also in the afternoon a Lynx came by at Wittmund and later on another one came down for a low approach. Also one of the Mirages left and it would fly back to France. The aircraft for the afternoon mission started their engines finally after many hours of waiting. The Turkish and the French aircraft went airborne again with much afterburner noise. Like in the morning also the afternoon flight had the duration of more than one hour. The sun was now on the back of the incoming aircraft. This ended in some surprising landing photos. The first aircraft of the afternoon flight came back at Wittmund at six PM and the exercise was over for me. After two very successful days at the Exercise Frisian Flag at Leeuwarden and the exercise Brilliant Ardent at Wittmund I returned home with many spectacular photos.




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