Combined Joint CSAR Standardisation Course 2008


After most of the participants arrived at Florennes Airbase on 30 April 2008, the European Air Group (EAG) Combined Joint Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) Standardisation Course 2008 got started on 1 May 2008. After four days of academic courses and six days of flying missions, the course ended on 15 May 2008.

The good weather of the past weeks allowed all flying missions to take place as scheduled. Every afternoon from Tuesday 6 May onwards, a dozen or so helicopters and a handful of fixed wing aircraft took off for a thoroughly planned and briefed CSAR mission in the South-East of Belgium, roughly in the area delimited by the river Meuse and the borders with Germany, Luxembourg and France. Low level flying was allowed in the Low Flying Area Ardennes (aircraft and helicopters) and in the Helicopter Training Area Ardennes (helicopters only). Every mission was followed by a detailed briefing for all participants. The same areas were used during the second week of the exercise for the night flying phase of the course.

The Belgian Air Component provided support to the course in the form of a number of Florennes based Lockheed Martin F-16AM Fighting Falcons and a pair of Agusta A.109BA Hirundos of the Wing Heli at Bierset.

Detailed information on the European Air Group and the CSAR Course can be found in an earlier BAHA special feature.


Airborne warning and control was provided by Boeing E-3A Sentry LX-N90453 of the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force (NAEW&CF) at Geilenkirchen, Germany. The aircraft was temporarily based at Florennes.


Fixed Wing Rescue Escort (FW RESCORT) was assured by a pair of Italian Air Force Treviso-Istrana based 51° Stormo AMX International AMX ground attack aircraft, among which was 51-32, the nicely decorated flagship of 132° Gruppo.


For the first time participating in the CSAR exercise at Florennes were two Romanian Air Force IAR.330H SOCATs. The SOCAT (Sistem Optronic de Cercetare şi Anti-Tanc, Antitank Optronic Search and Combat System) is a locally upgraded Puma and is adequately armed for the Rotary Wing Rescue Escort (RW RESCORT) role. 61, and this 94, of Baza Aeriana 90 de Transport are based at Bucharest/Otopeni.


The Italian Navy was represented by among others a pair of Agusta-Westland EH.101 Merlins, one of which was this anti-submarine warfare helicopter MM81485/2-06 of GRUPELICOT 1. The other one was utility helicopter MM81635/2-20 of the same unit. The former acted as recovery helicopter, the latter as airborne command and control post.


Also flying in the recovery role was a pair of Italian Air Force Agusta-Sikorsky HH-3F Pelicans: MM80988/15-19 and MM80976/15-03, both of 85° Gruppo SAR/15° Stormo at Pratica di Mare.


The Armée de l’Air was represented by Aerospatiale SA.330B Puma 1321/AH and this Eurocopter EC.725R2 RESCO (Recherche et Sauvetage au Combat) 2549/SB. Both belong to Escadron d’Hélicoptères 01/06 “Pyrenées” with home base at Cazaux.


 Text and pictures by

© Jos Schoofs (May 2008)

Last updated 30/05/08 08:30   Daniel Brackx