TLP 2007-05

Florennes, Belgium


The penultimate TLP (Tactical Leadership Programme) course of 2007 was staged at Florennes between 1 and 26 October 2007. Not particularly noteworthy this time for the partcipation of former Eastern Bloc, Greek or Turkish aircraft, TLP 2007-5 nevertless had some goodies for the spoiled enthousiast. On the day of this scribe's visit, 23 October, the weather was excellent with no clouds. However, the take-offs by the TLP course jets were extremely steep, making take off shots seen in previous reports on this site impossible. Thus, photography was limited to the approach phase after the mission of the day, resulting in a somewhat unvaried collection of images below.
Tactical Leadership Programme, originally frequented mostly by Western European, US and Canadian units, more and more shifted towards Southern European participants during the past years. Host country Belgium is a loyal supporter however, the Belgian Air Component's 2 Wing based at Florennes had among others this particular F-16AM in the exercise. Of note is a return to the FS tail codes first seen some years ago and subsequently largely abondened later. Strangely, companion F-16 base Kleine Brogel does not seem to put BL codes on the fins of their jets. FS stems from EBFS, the ICAO airfield code for Florennes.

One of only three USAF fighter bases left in Europe is Aviano in Italy. The resident 31 Fighter Wing's 555 Fighter Squadron "Triple Nickel" had detached a pair of it's Block 50 F-16C's to Aviano. One of these can be seen landing in this image. Note the laser designation pod to the right of this aircraft's engine intake.

The French Navy made an appearance with their newest mount, the Rafale. It was certainly the most modern participant in this TLP edition. Depicted here is the second production Rafale for the French Navy, which means that it is in air defence only configuration. After the 10th production Rafale for the Navy, the Rafales are of the F2 standard which is a multi role model suitable for air-to-ground work as well.

As indicated above, both Spain and Italy are enthousiastic TLP particpating nations. So much so that Spain offered to house the course at their Albacete base after 2009 when Florennes is vacated by TLP. Depicted here is Ala 15's EF-18A which was the unit's specially marked jet for the 2007 Tiger Meet held at Řrland, Norway during September 2007. Ala 15's Hornets did not take part in the actual course however, but served as External Assets, i.e. "sparring partners" for the actual students.

Participants in the Air Defence portion included the oldest Spanish fighter, the Mirage F.1M. These jets actually are based at TLP's next home, Albacete. Note the tail marking consisting of the Spanish flag draped around Ala 14's badge depicting Don Quichotte.

The Italian delegation at TLP 2007-5 was the largest of any nation. Apart from the fighters shown below, a pair of HH-3F Pelican helicopters flew as External Assets in the CSAR (Combat Search and Rescue) role. All Italian Air Force fighter types apart from the Eurofighter Typhoon could be enjoyed this time, with from left to right AMX, F-16A and Tornado. The AMX (51° Stormo, Istrana) and Tornado (6° Stormo, Ghedi) of course flying in the Air to Ground role. The Air to Air F-16A's came from 37° Stormo (Trapani).

A remark has already been made about the steep take offs by all the participants on this particular day. The only ones keeping their jets low during take-off were the German Phantom drivers. No doubt, they would have loved to climb out steeply as well, but their mounts were unable to. Nevertheless, the F-4F remains a very photogenic subject with afterburners blazing. JG 71 is set to continue flying F-4F's until 2011, keeping such shots a possibility for some time to come.

A sight which is becoming rarer and rarer nowadays is a green camouflaged German Tornado. JBG 31 still has some left, as is shoen here. JBG 31 from Nörvenich is the Luftwaffe's lead unit for laser guided bombing, as is evidenced by the Litening pod mounted under the fuselage of this Tornado.

British RAF Typhoons were promised as External Assets when this course began. However, they were substituted for the "slightly" less capable Hawk advanced trainers. These radarless instructional machines provided fighter opposition alongside Spanish Mirages. 

Only two years to go before this remarkably varied exercise moves to Spain's sunnier climes.


All pictures (c) Hans Rolink