Portuguese Air Force Trains Air and Ground Crews for Joint Interoperability
Portuguese Air Force Trains Air and Ground Crews for Joint Interoperability

Portuguese Air Force Trains Air and Ground Crews for Joint Interoperability

From March 15 to 26, the Portuguese Air Force hosts the multi-domain live-fly exercise Real Thaw 21 at Beja Air Base providing joint interoperability training for high-intensity day and night operations. Usually conducted as a multinational exercise, the Portuguese Air Force this time has had to apply strict anti-COVID-19 measures which enable joint participation from the Portuguese Armed Forces. Additionally this exercise serves as a basis for national certification of the forces assigned to the NATO Response Force (NRF). The exercise consists of joint interoperability training focused on the integration and synchronization of multinational assets, as members of a combined task force enhancing tactics development and validation.

Portuguese Air Force Trains Air and Ground Crews for Joint Interoperability
Portuguese Air Force F-16 inside a hangar at Beja Air Base in the south of the country, ready to fly during exercise Real Thaw 21. Photo by Manuel Cascalheira. (Photo by Manuel Cascalheira/NATO)

“We are strongly committed to create a safe COVID-19-free environment, where participants can experience a high-level tactical exercise to maximize integration, interoperability and learning. Exercise Real Thaw 21 is a Portuguese Air Force training exercise conducted by the Portuguese Air Command. During Real Thaw 21 we are conducting Large Force Employment operations in a Joint All Domain Operations or JADO framework” said Lieutenant-General Eurico Craveiro, Portuguese Air Commander who scheduled the exercise.”

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Portuguese Air Force Trains Air and Ground Crews for Joint Interoperability
Exercise participants for Real Thaw 21 in front of a Portuguese Air Force C-130H at Beja Air Base. Photo by Manuel Cascalheira. (Photo by Manuel Cascalheira/NATO)

“The Portuguese Air Command is strongly committed to create a safe COVID-19-free environment, where participants can experience a high-level tactical exercise in order to maximize integration, interoperability and learning,” said Exercise Director Brigadier General João Caldas. “We will face this challenge with strong determination, establishing a safe environment for the development of joint air operations and proving that we can work in the present situation.”

Portuguese Air Force Trains Air and Ground Crews for Joint Interoperability
Aircrew inside the cockpit of a Portuguese Air Force C-130H during a mission in support of exercise Real Thaw 21. Photo by Manuel Cascalheira. (Photo by Manuel Cascalheira/NATO)

The primary training objective is to train Portuguese Air Force aircrews and ground forces to operate in a high intensity joint setting together with Army, Navy units and Special Forces. Scenarios implement joint interoperability training and maximize integration. Participants are challenged by missions including Defensive Counter Air, Offensive Counter Air-Sweep and Escort, High-Value Air Asset protection, slow mover protection, airlift escort, airdrop escort, Special Operations Forces and Non-Combatant Evacuation Operations, air assault, convoy and helicopter escorts, Personnel Recovery, Combat Search and Rescue and Medical Evacuation. Participants in Real Thaw 21 include the Portuguese Air Force tactical flying squadrons, ground units such as Control and Reporting Centre, Tactical Air Control Party/Joint Terminal Attack Controllers.

Portuguese Air Force Trains Air and Ground Crews for Joint Interoperability
A Portuguese Air Force P-3C CUP+ Orion anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft with a Beja Air Base fire truck getting ready for exercise Real Thaw 21. (Photo by Manuel Cascalheira/NATO).
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