Exercise Ample Strike is an international Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC)/ international Forward Air Controller (FAC) exercise. This is the third year it has been hosted and led by the Czech Republic. This year’s Ample Strike has been running from August 30th and will end September 20th 2016.Sean McRandle was invited on to RAF Fairford for the exercise media day by the United States Air Force and has kindly provided the following report and images for South West Aviation
The Ample Strike Exercises (AMSE) started in 2012 under a different name of exercise Ramstein Rover, organized by the NATO’s Air Command in Ramstein, Germany. In 2014 the Czech Republic took the lead changing the exercise’s name to Exercise Ample Strike (AMSE).
The exercise is aimed at providing realistic training for Forward Air Controllers/Joint Terminal Attack Controllers on the ground in a combat environment. During the exercise aircrews and ground units will be put through their paces in extremely complex and demanding scenarios.
This is the first year that any air assets have been based at RAF Fairford for an AMSE exercise.
The first aircraft to arrive at RAF Fairford on the 30th of August was a United States Air Force Boeing B-52H Stratofortress 60-0038 (BD) of the 307th Bomb Wing/93d Bomb Squadron, Air Force Reserve Command, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana. The aircraft arrived from Sliač Air Base, Slovakia after attending the Sliač Airshow using the callsign “SCALP99”.
A few days after the B52’s arrival on the 3rd of September, the long awaited pair of United States Air Force Rockwell B-1B Lancer’s (Bones) of the 489th Bomb Group/7th Bomb Wing Dyess Air Force Base, Texas arrived at RAF Fairford using the callsigns CROOK1 (85-0089/DY “489 BG/CC”) The Commanders aircraft and CROOK2 (86-0127/DY) after a night stop in Bangor, Maine.
The 489th Bomb Group was created in October 1943 and after just two years the unit was then deactivated in 1945, On the 17 October 2015 the 489th was reactivated by the United States Air Force as the Air Forces Reserve 489th Bomb Group and is the reserve unit associated with the regular unit of the 7th Bomb Wing at Dyess Air Force Base, Texas flying the Rockwell B-1B Lancer (Bone) exactly 70 Years on from when the 489th was first inactivated.
During the exercise the B1B’s and the B52 using RAF Fairford as a forward operating base (FOB) will be conducting numerous day and night tactical strike and bomber missions within the Czech Republic.
Colonel Denis Heinz commander of the 489th Bomb Group said ” It’s a 1hr30min flight to the training area in the Czech Republic where we have been engaging with the Forward Air Controllers and Joint Terminal Attack Controllers from 18 different nations dropping simulated weapons on targets for 2hrs before returning to Fairford, phenomenal training the controllers have been very good”
Both the B1B aircraft deployed to RAF Fairford have had the Block 16 upgrades, one of the upgrades fitted to the aircraft is a Lockheed Martin Sniper Advanced Targeting Pod Extended Range (ATP-XR), this new technology is proving invaluable, out on the Ample Strike missions over the Czech Republic, helping the crews acquire targets given to them by the Forward Air Controllers/Joint Terminal Attack Controllers on the ground with pinpoint accuracy.
Adding to the exercises complexity will be air-to-air refuelling missions during the tactical strike and bomber missions by a pair of United States Air Force KC-135R Stratotankers based out of Pardubice Airport, Czech Republic for the duration of exercise ample strike.
During the exercise up to 34 Aircraft are expected to take part, these aircraft will help JTACs to keep up their skills of controlling aircraft in support of forces fighting on the ground. Ample Strike allows JTAC and FAC controllers to work with many different nations and allied forces, sharing experience and knowledge, building up their skills working complex and challenging air to land Integration scenarios.
|Aircraft||Country||Base During Ample Strike|
|3xMi-24&35 Hind||Czech Republic||Libavá Military training area, Czech Republic|
|1xL-39ZA Albatros||Czech Republic||21st Tactical Air Base, Čáslav, Czech Republic|
|4x L-159 Alca||Czech Republic||21st Tactical Air Base, Čáslav, Czech Republic|
|2x JAS-39 Gripen||Czech Republic||21st Tactical Air Base, Čáslav, Czech Republic|
|1xL-39 Albatros||Lithuania||22nd Helicopter Base, Namest, Czech Republic|
|2x Pilatus PC-9M||Slovenia||22nd Helicopter Base, Namest, Czech Republic|
|1xPilatus PC-9M||Germany||22nd Helicopter Base, Namest, Czech Republic|
|2xLearjet||Germany||22nd Helicopter Base, Namest, Czech Republic|
|2xTornado||Germany||Neuburg Air Base, Germany|
|4xSu-22M4||Poland||22nd Helicopter Base, Namest, Czech Republic|
|2x JAS39 Gripen||Hungary||Kecskemét Air Base, Hungary|
|5xAH-64||USA||Libavá Military training area, Czech Republic|
|2xKC-135R||USA||Pardubice Airport, Czech Republic|
|2xB1||USA||Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom|
|1xB52||USA||Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom|
- FAC = Forward Air Controllers
- JTAC = Joint Terminal Attack Controller
- FOB = Forward Operating Base
- ATP-XR = Advanced Targeting Pod Extended Range
- AMSE = Exercise Ample Strike
All words and images © South West Aviation Photographers/Sean McRandle 2016