Kosovo Task Force Aviation has carried out a multi-aircraft training operation along with NATO partners from the Croatian Air Force at Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo.

This operation was carried out on 6 August. It is intended to boost interoperability between Nato partners whilst preparing TF Aviation for future operations.

TF Aviation’s 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment battalion commander Lt Col Christopher Buck said that the task force’s mission is to provide KFOR
airlift and air medical evacuation assets for safety and mobility and support, which in turn will support the total NATO mission in Kosovo.

Buck added: “We contribute to both freedom of movement and a safe and secure environment within the KFOR area of responsibility.”

This operation represents the first joint exercise between TF Aviation and the Croatian Air Force since KFOR 26’s Multinational Battle Group East rotation commenced last month.

TF Aviation’s 1-171 Avn Reg Chief Warrant Officer 2 and instructor pilot Stephen Gayton said: “It was definitely a learning experience for us to see how our partner nations operate. How they fly their aircraft, as well as their overall capabilities, is important if we have to operate [with them] in the future.”

The training involved Black Hawk helicopters, UH 60, and Croatian Hips transport helicopters, MI 17.

Flight patterns allowed the two Black Hawks to lead and swap flight positions during the training event.

Gayton added: “It’s absolutely important that we have as many flights as possible in the area. That way we will be ready to support any mission set.”

Gayton said this operation boosts mission readiness, as well as the interoperability level with partners, including the Croatians. He added: “We even had a discussion earlier about expanding our mission sets and the different types of missions we can support now that we’ve had this joint training with the Croatian partners.”