Exercise Brilliant Arrow involved over 50 aircraft and 800 personnel from 11 NATO nations, who deployed to Oerland Air Base in Norway. The exercise was coordinated by the Head Quarters of Allied Air Command ( known in military parlance as HQ AIRCOM).
Brilliant Arrow is designed to prepare NATO air forces who don’t routinely train together to share their experience and skills in combined air operations. Starting at a basic level the scenarios build in complexity until they include large formations of aircraft covering a multitude of planned and reactive missions. This training, along with other exercises, will prepare the participating units and HQ AIRCOM to assume standby from 2014 ready to react in defence of the NATO region and its interests.
8 Squadron deployed 2 crews, one Sentry E-3D, and a team of engineers and support staff to Oerland for the duration of the 2 week exercise. Oerland airbase, whilst a Norwegian F16 base, is also a designated Forward Operating Location (FOL) for the NATO E-3 fleet and has a good set up to support Sentry operations including a large hanger, dedicated accommodation for the 18 strong crews and space for up to 5 AWACS. The airbase is perfect for large scale exercises, such as Brilliant Arrow, due to the easy access to the oversea training areas and the sparsely populated central Norway mountains and fjords which allow low level flying through spectacular scenery.
Operationally the crews brought a lot of experience to the exercise and played a significant part in the planning and execution of the twice daily missions. By the end of the exercise, with the help of the E-3D, over 500 missions were safely flown by the participants who all left with a greater understanding of each others capabilities.
RAF/MOD Crown Copyright 2013