Operation COMAO: Cooperation of Fighter Aircrafts and Helicopters with Ground Forces

 09. 08. 2020      category: Army of the Czech Republic

Our fighter pilots have gained control of the territory. Elite units descended from the air to find a person of interest on the ground. They are covered by our fighters. And after completing the task, they will arrange for the entire team to be picked up by helicopters. This was one of the scenarios of the Quo Vadis military training, which took place from 3 to 5 August in the airspace of the Moravská Třebová aeroclub and adjacent areas.

Its aim was to practise the ability to cooperate with advanced Forward Air Controllers in the direct air support of the ground forces CAS (Close Air Support) and between units, as well as the planning and implementation of joint air operations such as COMAO (Composite Air Operations).

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Picture: JAS-39 Gripen fighter aircraft took part in the QUO VADIS training (illustrative photo) | Wikimedia Commons

These are therefore operations where a large number of different types of aircraft work together, possibly supported by ground forces. In this case, it was the cooperation of air personnel with JAS-39 Gripen and L-159 ALCA aircraft from the 21st Tactical Air Force Base Caslav, Mi-24 and Mi-171S helicopters from the 22nd Helicopter Base Sedlec, Vícenice u Náměště nad Oslavou, CASA C-295 M transport aircraft from the 24th Air Transportation Base, ground staff and advanced Forward Air Controllers. The communication of the fighter pilot with the advanced controller usually takes place via radio.

"Thorough planning is a key factor to achieve the desired goal as the planning of COMAO operations includes different types of aircraft and helicopters, which on the one hand have different capabilities and possibilities and on the other hand have a lot of limitations and different procedures," said Captain Michal Hodač, who managed the training. "Each such training is beneficial for us and the experience gained can be further used in other missions."

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Picture: L-159ALCA aircraft took part in the QUO VADIS training (illustrative photo) | Wikimedia Commons

Joint operations of the air and ground forces

COMAO operations are practised only a few times a year, mainly due to the complicated, complex planning they require. The scenario can be, for example, the rescue of a pilot shot down in combat, a strike on a strategic target or direct air support. By default, the COMAO missions are considered when operating in a hostile environment and when the enemy is able to defend themselves effectively.

Therefore, all the necessary components of the air and ground forces are involved in the planning of these demanding missions, it always depends on the task that needs to be completed.

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Picture: The aim of the Quo Vadis training was to practise the ability to cooperate with advanced Forward Air Controllers in the direct air support of the CAS ground forces (illustrative photo) | army.cz

During the training, L-159ALCA aircraft performed air operations aimed at direct air support of ground units and airspace protection, Gripen aircraft were destined to fight for air supremacy, CASA transport aircraft performed airdrops. The Mi-171 helicopter served the same purpose, its air protection was performed by a Mi-24 helicopter.

As part of the broader alliance mission COMAO, refuelling tankers or AWACS aircraft serving could also be deployed as a command and control center and other units. Two hundred soldiers and twenty aircraft and helicopters of the ACR Air Force took part in the Quo Vadis training.