ELITE 2008 - Heuberg
Photo Report
    ELITE 2008 - Heuberg

    ELITE 2008 - Heuberg

    Photographer: Frank Grealish
    Date: 8th July 2008
    Location: Heuberg Range, Germany

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    From the 3rd to the 17th of July Exercise Elite 2008 was held in Germany and IrishAirPics paid a visit to report on the flying activities.

    Exercise Background
    ELITE is an annual exercise run by the Luftwaffe with an strong emphasis on electronic warfare, ELITE standing for Electronic Warfare LIve Training Exercise.

    All flying activity is centred on the Heuberg Range which is located between Munich & Stuttgart. This range is the largest military training area in Germany and due to itís terrain offers the perfect environment for concealing missile, electronic warfare & radar systems.

    A total of 19 different nations from NATO, the European Union (EU) and Partnership for Peace (PfP) participated, 5 nations were also present as observers. Each nation brought either aircraft or ground based weapons systems / electronic warfare systems while some nations brought both.

    Overall 17 ground based weapon systems, 46 fixed wing aircraft and 13 helicopters participated in the exercise.

    Ground-based air defence systems were employed to give their crews invaluable practice at targeting aircraft that were actively jamming or confusing their systems. On the flip side of this the presence of the ground based systems allowed the various aircraft to fly into an extremely hostile and dense, if somewhat unrealistic, air defence environment.

    750 missions were flown over the duration of ELITE, with aircraft operating from various bases in Germany and also from France. Fast jets were based at Lechfeld, Neuburg and Spangdahlem, transports and EW aircraft were based at Landsberg, helicopters were based Laupheim while Boeing E-3 aircraft were flying from Geilenkirchen and Avord, France.

    Activities at Heuberg
    Two groups of sorties were flown over Heuberg every day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon, each time various ground based systems were activated or deactivated, depending on the training required.

    While over the range area the various aircraft & helicopters flew different profiles at different altitudes, generally the helicopters flew at tree top level, sometimes even below tree top height, transports and some fast jets were just above tree top height, the rest of the fast jets and AWACS aircraft stayed at higher altitudes.

    When over the range the various aircraft & helicopters employed different countermeasures to defeat the ground based threats, dispensing flares or chaff or sometimes even a combination of both.

    Huge amounts of data were recorded during each mission and this was used in debriefing sessions in conjunction with video conferencing where the air crews were able to talk to the ground crews they were operating against so that both sets of crews could learn from their sessions on the range.

    ELITE 2008 was deemed to be success but due to financial considerations is not due to return again until 2010. A second report will follow shortly, covering flying operations at Lechfeld Air Base.

    IrishAirPics would like to thank Lt Col Knoblach and all the ELITE Media Team for all their support and help during my visit to Heuberg & Lechfeld.