Thursday, December 3, 2009

Optic Windmill 2009 reports on exercise “Special Project Optic Windmill 2009” in its December issue of “Greek Defence and Security”. The exclusive report describes the exercise which focussed on net-centric and anti-ballistic missile defence. The exercise took place on the 4th and 5th of November with the participation of Dutch, Greek and German forces.

On the 4th of November 2 Patriot Firing Units of the Royal Dutch Air Force intercepted two targets simulating a tactical ballistic missile attack which were fired from an islet in the vicinity of Santorini. According to the Dutch Ministry of Defence website two Patriot missiles were fired against each target in order to maximise the chances of a hit. The Patriot engagements took place in the context of a wider and complex air defence scenario. This scenario included the participation of the Greek Air Force with an Erieye Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft, a large number of fighters and one Patriot squadron. The Greek Army participated with a modernised battery of I-Hawk PIP Phase III surface to air missiles. The German side participated with the anti air warfare frigate Hamburg (F220). The coordination and safety of the participating forces was assigned to the 3rd Area Command Centre in Ziros in eastern Crete and the corresponding Dutch mobile CRC.

Dozens of Greek fighter aircraft of various types participated in the attacking “red” role while the recently delivered Greek F-16 Block 52+ Advanced fighters took on the role of the defensive “blue” force to protect the German frigate and surface to air systems. The red force successfully practiced attack scenarios using AM-39 Exocet and AGM-88B HARM missiles.

The delivery of the F-16 Block 52+ Advanced aircraft to 335 Squadron of Araxos airbase started this year and will be completed in the beginning of 2010. These fighters are currently the only ones in the Greek inventory with Link-16 capability. This system works on UHF frequencies on a time distributed multiple access protocol. The use of Link-16 allows any asset which is part of the network to transmit information and receive information from other assets on the network. As a result the networked assets receive information allowing for greater situational awareness with information being distributed on the location, direction and velocity of enemy forces, as well as friendly ones and their status. In the recent exercise the network assets included the Greek F-16 Block 52+ Advanced fighters, the Erieye AEW&C aircraft, the Dutch CRC as well as the Hamburg frigate.

The multinational “Optic Windmill” exercise was held for the first time in 1996 on initiative of the Dutch Armed Forces with participation of Germany and the USA. The purpose of the exercise was wide range air defence. According to NATO this includes defence against ballistic missiles. The exercise was originally held at the Dutch airbase “De Peel” but the 2001 exercise was held in Italy. That exercise was cut short due to the attacks of September 11th on the twin towers and the Pentagon. Until 2002 the exercise was held each year and after 2002 every two years. From 2004 the exercise is conducted at the NATO Missile Firing Installation (NAMFI) in Crete allowing NATO forces to simulate deployment in far away theatres of operation.

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