A NATO exercise is underway in the Baltic States which involves testing a unit that controls air assets. The Deployable Air Command and Control Centre, or DACCC, is usually based in Poggio Renatico, Italy. Over the last week some elements have been moved to Lielvarde Airbase in Latvia where they will stay until October. It’s made up of various containers, computers and satellite dishes and has a team of approximately 100 operators. The exercise, called Ramstein Dust II-17, is being run by NATO’s Allied Air Command. Various staff from the DACCC will be integrated within the NATO battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The exercise scenario demonstrates the defensive nature of Alliance activities and provides visible assurance to NATO members of the Alliance’s ability to meet its obligations. In this piece, a UK Royal Air Force A400M ‘ATLAS’ lands in Latvia, carrying equipment for the exercise.
The Airbus A400M Atlas is a multi-national, four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Military (now Airbus Defence and Space) as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. The A400M is positioned, in terms of size, between the C-130 and the C-17; it can carry heavier loads than the C-130, while able to use rough landing strips. Along with the transport role, the A400M can perform aerial refuelling and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment.