Let’s have a closer look at the latest TLP course at Albacete Air Base, Spain.
The latest iteration of the NATO Tactical Leadership Programme, TLP 23-4, took place between Nov. 13 and Dec. 1, 2023 at its Albacete AB headquarters, in Spain. The first of the three-week course focused on the academics and use of the MACE (Modern Air Combat Environment) simulators while the flying course developed through the last two weeks.
Approximately 700 personnel, 39 of those graduated from the course, including 28 pilots, 6 intelligence officers and 5 air traffic controllers, took part in TLP 23-4.
As usual, the flying activity saw a Blue Air team face a Red Air during the execution of tactical composite air operations (COMAO). In particular, the Blue Air component included six EF-18M Hornets and four Eurofighters of the Spanish Air Force, four F-2000s from the Italian Air Force, two Mirage 2000-5s of the Greek Air Force, four Rafale Ms of the French Navy, four F-16 Fighting Falcons of the Polish Air Force and four Eurofighter Typhoons FGR4 (including one T3) from the Royal Air Force. The Red Air component was made by two Eurofighter of the Spanish Air Force, two F-2000s of the Italian Air Force, two Alpha jets of the French Air Force, two Typhoons of the Royal Air Force and two L-159 ALCAs of the Czech Air Force.
After an absence of several years, TLP 23-4 marked the return to Albacete of the Royal Air Force with six Typhoon FGR4/T3s.
AWACS support was provided by a NATO E-3 Sentry flying out from Moron AB in Southern Spain, while a Dassault 20 from Draken International flying out from Albacete AB carried out EW (Electronic Warfare) missions. An MQ-9 Predator of the Spanish Air Force that is participating in a TLP course for the first time.
CSAR exercises were also scheduled for the third week of the course, with two HH-101 Caesars from the Italian Air Force and an NH-90 of the Spanish Air Force.
Remarkably, during TLP 2023-4 course the NATO TLP team received the distinguished visit by HM King Felipe VI of Spain who flew in on Nov. 22 aboard an AS.332 Super Puma helicopter who met with high-ranking officers of the Spanish Air Force including the CO of the TLP Col. Martinez Ruiz and other dignitaries including the President of Castilla La Mancha and the Mayor of Albacete. HM King Felipe VI was briefed on the course, toured the TLP facilities and met members of the participating air forces.
A Media Day was held on Nov. 23, with a very good participation of national and international media correspondents.
Col. Martinez Ruiz delivered the media briefing in Spanish with input from his RAF and ItAF colleagues followed by a second briefing in English which was a first for the TLP. Our contributor Moshi Anahory took part in the event, shot the photographs you can find in this article and contributed to this report.
Noting that the 2023-2 and 2023-3 courses had been cancelled, Col Martinez Ruiz commented that the cancellation had been due to operational issues by one of the participating countries. Col Martinez Ruiz confirmed that the TLP required a minimum participation of eighteen aircraft for a course to go ahead.
The RAF and ItAF representatives were asked if participation of F-35Bs of the RAF and F-35A/Bs of the ItAF are expected during the next TLP courses with the response being that the likelihood is for 2025 as the F-35s are already operationally committed for 2024. Notably, the course to be held in February 2024 is expected to include participations by three non-TLP participating nations, one of them being the Romanian Air Force.