For several days during the Armed Forces exercise, AURORA 17, Swedish air defence units have had a unique opportunity to exercise against a highly sophisticated threat – AH-64 Apache attack helicopters.
“From our side, these exercises are a unique opportunity for our units to practice against sophisticated systems such as attack helicopters. In addition, during the exercise, we can scale up the level of difficulty so that both sides get a good outcome in terms of the respective system's performance,” says the exercise leader, Major Oskar Hullegård.
FLYING AT THE LOWEST ALTITUDE
The American Apache Helicopters come in just a few metres above the ploughed fields, about 10 km north of Visby. At the end of the fields, three air defence vehicles (lvkv 90s) and a number of RBS 70 fire units are ready to home their systems in on the approaching helicopters. Tuesday's events were followed by a number of representatives of both the Swedish and international media, and by delegations from the Swedish and Finnish defence ministries, headed by their respective defence ministers. The American guests confirmed that they are also keen to get as much as possible out of the exercise.
“There are a number of important goals we hope to achieve by participating. First of all, it’s important for us to practice the logistics that come with moving the unit from one country to another. Secondly, we’re able to exercise against systems that we don’t normally encounter and, not least, we get knowledge of how the Swedish Armed Forces and its various parts operate, which is so important if we ever find ourselves collaborating in another context,” says Major Romanowski.
EXPERIENCE FROM AFGHANISTAN
He tells us that his unit has been involved in lengthy tours in Afghanistan and prefers to carry out tasks under the cover of darkness.
“When we fly during daytime we are at our most vulnerable and, because our systems are very well suited to night combat, we prefer to operate in the dark,” explains Romanowski.
The Swedish unit instructor, Captain Fredrik Ingvarsson, confirms that their American guests have been very keen to share knowledge and discuss the tactics they use for their own tasks.
“I think this is a real win-win situation when our operators explain how they act in certain tactical situations and, in turn, the American pilots give us their view on what we can do to attack them,” says Fredrik Ingvarsson.
Daniel Hansson also adds: “It’s good to know that in certain situations the pilots think our systems are very difficult to handle. Great that we can make life a little bit tricky for them…”