GOTLAND, Sweden–Eight helicopters and 95 Soldiers from the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade participated in exercise Aurora 17 in Sweden from 13-27 Sept., 2017. Exercise Aurora 17 is an exercise designed to improve, test and show the capabilities of the Swedish Armed Forces.
Four AH-64 Apache helicopters from 1st Bn., 3rd Avn. Regt., “Vipers,” and four CH-47 Chinook helicopters from 1st Bn., 214th Avn. Regt., “Big Windy,” participated in the exercise. The aviation task force joined over 19,000 Swedish participants and approximately 1,300 U.S. service members from the Army, Marines and Navy.
The helicopters performed numerous missions throughout the exercise ranging from movement to contact, reconnaissance, air-assault and casualty evacuations.
The task force from the 12th CAB began the exercise by aiding the opposing force as “red air.” This allowed AH-64 Apache and CH-47 Chinook pilots to fly against mounted and unmounted Air Defense systems.
Swedish Air Defense Regiment 61 of the Swedish Armed Forces provided the main defense against rotary wing assets in the form of the man-portable RBS 70 “Robotsystem” 70, and the larger self-propelled Combat Vehicle 90. The pilots and air-defenders conducted two days of daytime training flights in order to allow all parties involved the opportunity to test their long and short range detection systems before the full scenarios began.
Aurora 17 provides a unique environment in which the rotary wing assets can fly against active air defense equipment in a large area with varied terrain.
The Soldiers and aircraft switched sides during the last phase of the exercise. This change took place with a simultaneous movement of all aircraft and equipment from Bunge Airbase on the island of Gotland to the mainland 90 miles north of Stockholm.
The Task Force quickly transitioned into offensive operations with the Swedes once the aircraft and Soldiers settled at a small air base north of Stockholm. The AH-64’s and CH-47’s continued to execute air-assault and attack aviation missions with the Swedish Armed Forces.
During the exercise the Task Force hosted the Supreme Commander of Swedish Armed Forces General Micael Byden and the Minister of Defense for Sweden, Peter Hultqvist.
The 12th Combat Aviation Brigade trains and conducts aviation missions across the full spectrum of unified land operations for United States Army Europe, United States European Command and our allied and NATO partners.
By Capt. Jaymon Bell (12th Combat Aviation Brigade)