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Ample Strike 2016 at Náměšť nad Oslavou

Every other year a very useful but not so well-known exercise is held in Czechia, Ample Strike. In this third edition, Náměšť nad Oslavou was actively involved again hosting some of the 17 participating countries. Of these, Czechia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Slovenia and the United States employed aircraft. Aviagraphers share a fence check at Náměšť nad Oslavou.

 Ample Strike is, as the name already suggests, an exercise with the objective of coordinating an air strike. This involves forward air controllers, or "Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC)", being deployed in the field and aircraft operating from a wide variety of air bases getting directed to their slots over the target area to deploy their weapons on the assigned and marked targets.

Some of you may have noticed or heard about the heavy USAF bombers at RAF Fairford in September 2016, well they actually participated in this exercise. The US Army used their AH-64D helicopters currently in Europe under the Stronge Resolve capacity augmentation mission.

Apart from forward deployed assets, the Hungarian and German air forces operated out of their home bases. The 2016 edition was held from 5 to 16 September.

Air controller Learjets under contract by the German Ministry of Defence did deploy to Náměšť and were always the first to go up and circle around the target area liaising between the Forward Air Controllers and the incoming strike package.

The PC-9 aircraft is used for spotting and marking targets. The Germans send two of these and the Slovenians as well. As you can see, they take flying 'nap of the Earth' seriously and were doing a fence check same as us!

With the scene set, strike aircraft can take-off to deliver their punch, like the recently refurbished Polish Air Force Su-22M-4.

Lithuania has to live with the mighty Russian bear that has awoken and will not accept too close ties between its former satelite states and Europe. That is why the Lithuanians are eager to sharpen their teeth in joint-exercises like Ample Strike 2016.

Being a Forward Air Controller, or downed pilot, means you have to rely on insertion and extraction by the brave men and women of 22.Základna Vrtulníkového Letectva. Seen here is one of their Mi-171 practicing tactical drop offs and pick-ups.

Czechia is very keen to keep the hours neatly spread over their fleet. Every now and then, an airframe gets swopped between operational storage and active duty, like this Mi-35 being towed to the maintenance hangar.