English translation by Dario Cocco
Last October 1st on the BA 102 Dijon Air Base began one of the most “exotic" exercises of the European military aviation scenery being France and Saudi Arabia the two countries involved.
Dijon is one of the most important military structures of the French Air Force, home of the GC 01.002 (Groupe de Chasse) "Cicognes" with three Escadrilles equipped with Mirage 2000-5F and EE 05.002 (Escadron of Entraînement) Cote d'Or with two Escadrilles equipped with Alpha Jets. The Air Base is located in the central region called Burgundy.
The exercise called Green Shield 2 follows a similar event held in 2007 when the Mirage 2000s of the Armèe L'Air participated to the Green Shield 1 which was hwld in the Arabic nation.
Instead, for this second edition is the Royal Saudi Air Force to move to the transalpine country, with the flight component arrived in Dijon consisting of six F 15 Eagle (five of the single seater C version and one of the two-seater version D), the aircraft belonging to 5th Squadron which depends in turn on the 2nd Wing, air group which is based on the Taif (King Fahd Air base), a few miles away from Jeddah. The transfer to the french soil consisted in a six hour non-stop fligth which was made possible using several in-flight refuellings using Tankers; also various C 130Hs has been used for the transport of personnel and equipment.
The Detachment that has been re-deployed to Dijon can count on 70 people for technical/logistic services and ten pilots. The purpose of the exercise is to seal the already good relations between the two nations and interact on the operational capabilities of an air force (French) which is part of NATO and operates worldwide and an air force (Saudi Arabia) that has in its "inventory" all the best and air force should have, but operates under its own internal rules and sometimes not fully interoperable with other Air Forces.
The exercise has involved various structures, besides the Saudi one with the "Eagles" and the French Dijon with its Mirage 2000-5F and Alpha Jet; the Saint Dizier (BA 113) with the brand new Rafales from the 113th Escadron de Chasse, AWACS E 3F from Avord and some Eurocopter Caracal helicopters with functions of SAR Combat have also been deployed.
The operations were conducted in two different theaters, the first in an area 20 minutes of flight southwest of Dijon, while the most important was "designed" to form a triangle by touching the airports of Saint Dizier, Metz and Nancy. Moreover this second area of operations is adjacent to the French side of the electronic warfare “Polygon”; in this area, the flight activity can go as low as 200 meters above the ground and no height limit to air-space.
For the Saudi component, at his second appearance in the skies over Europe after the one with the Tornado IDS in England last year, and then for the first time ever with air superiority aircraft, the opportunity to participate in an exercise of high level will be certainly beneficial to "interpret" the mode of operation within NATO and especially given the significant difference in climate and weather conditions to fly in a totally new scenarios for both the morphology of the terrain and the presence of clouds, fog and rain in abundance, a far cry from those typical of middle Eastern countries. Just for the record the 5th Squadron of the Royal Saudi Air Force is set to receive very soon the brand new Eurofighter Typhoons, currently on order, leaving the mighty F 15s to other units of the RSAF.
The author would like to thank the: Col.Lherbette, Col. Paccagnini, Col. Coste and Capt. Guirbal.
Also meriting special thanks for their essential assistance the Sirpa Air Paris
Images and text by Giorgio Ciarini