Helicopters gather in the Netherlands as Exercise Autumn Falcon kicks off

Over 1,000 military personnel and almost 40 helicopters are currently participating in Exercise Autumn Falcon at various locations across the Netherlands.

Running from October 31 to November 18, units from the Netherlands, Poland and US are conducting complex training missions together in various provinces of the Netherlands, such as Drenthe, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Utrecht and Zuid-Holland.

Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64 Apache attack helicopters will be working with US and Polish Army helicopters to train joint combined airborne operations at a large scale. Archive photo courtesy
Royal Netherlands Air Force AH-64 Apache attack helicopters will be working with US and Polish Army helicopters to train joint combined airborne operations at a large scale. Royal Netherlands Air Force

The Netherlands Defence Helicopter Command of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) are participating with four CH-47 - equipped with Rockwell Collins' Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) - from 298 Squadron, two AS532U2 Cougars from 300 Squadron, four AH-64D Apaches from 301 Squadron and two NH90s from 860 Squadron.

Overseas participation comes via the US Army and Polish Army. The former participation comes specifically from the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade (CAB) which has sent eight Boeing CH-47F Chinooks, eight UH-60 Black Hawks and six AH-64D Apaches. The 1st Polish Army Air Brigade has sent three of its Mi-8/17 Hip transport helicopters. All helicopters will be based at the Lieutenant General Best Barracks (formerly De Peel Air Base) in Vredepeel for the exercise.

Arrival of U.S. Army Europe 12th Combat Aviation Brigade UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters at Vredepeel, the Netherlands, for multinational helicopter exercise Falcon Autumn.
Arrival of U.S. Army Europe 12th Combat Aviation Brigade UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters at Vredepeel, the Netherlands, for multinational helicopter exercise Falcon Autumn. Christian Schrik via NATO

The large complex exercise throughout the duration of Falcon Autumn is arranged by the 11th Airmobile Brigade and the Defence Helicopter Command of the Netherlands Defence. Exercise Autumn Falcon is designed to simulate the defence of NATO coalition territory with realistic scenarios and conditions which prepares the participating units for such operations in theatre. As a result of the exercise, Dutch ground forces will be certified for large scale tactical air manoeuvre and air drop missions with both US and Polish partners.

Lt Col Roy Hemmelder, Commander Air Task Force during Exercise Falcon Autumn 2022 said: “In the complex world in which we live, international defense cooperation is of increasing importance for the maintenance of peace and security. The security situation calls for units that can be deployed internationally in the very short term. This places high demands on the ability to cooperate with units from different countries.

“By training and working with international partners, we improve our collaboration and the ability to act quickly together when the situation calls for it. We will do this during Falcon Autumn together with Polish and American helicopter units,” he added.

US Army Europe 12th Combat Aviation Brigade helicopters lined up at Vredepeel, the Netherlands, for multinational helicopter exercise Falcon Autumn 2022.
US Army Europe 12th Combat Aviation Brigade helicopters lined up at Vredepeel, the Netherlands, for multinational helicopter exercise Falcon Autumn 2022. Christian Schrik via NATO