Dino Marcellino reports on the Air Centric Personnel Recovery Operatives Course 2017, which took place at the Italian Air Force Base in Rivolto, Italy, from 14 to 28 June.
Air Centric Personnel Recovery Operatives Course (APROC) is held each year by one of the seven countries who are members of the European Personnel Recovery Centre (EPRC). This year’s was the second event, following the debut course held in Germany in 2017.
The event is a training activity organised to qualify the military crews, from the Air Forces of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, the UK and Spain, in personnel recovery, the rescue and recovery of military staff and civilians in hostile and non-permissive environments (for example, the isolation or capture of personnel during operations, or recovery of Embassy staff in destabilised Countries). More than 450 military staff attended Rivolto Air Base.
The first two days were spent on theorical teaching. This was followed by simulating a complex scenario in the northeast Italian territory, where the helicopter crews trained to conduct realistic recovery missions.
Besides to the recovery areas named PUZs (pick-up zones), other locations were prepared to be used as Forward Arming and Refuelling Points, where the helicopters had the possibility to land and refuel during operations, increasing their operational range, as can happen in a real mission.
The Italian Air Force 2nd Wing, based in Rivolto, provided the operative and logistic support on the two-week-long exercise.
A total of 15 helicopters were deployed: two HH-101s, two HH-139s and an HH-212 from the Italian Air Force; an EH-101 and an SH-90 from the Italian Navy; two MI-24 Hind s and two W-3s from the Polish Air Force; and two AS550 Fennecs and a pair of AS725 Caracals from the French Air Force. Also taking part were Italian Air Force fighters – the AMX from 51th Wing, Tornado from 6th Wing and Eurofighters from 4th Wing.
During training, a Polish W-3 Sokol suffered a technical problem. It was forced to land in a rural location and subsequently caught fire. However, all six people onboard escape safely.
The EPRC was inaugurated on 8 July 2015, at Italian Air Force Base in Poggio Renatico. It was established to create a viable and credible Personnel Recovery (PR) capability for European nations.