Falcon Autumn 2022 - De Peel, 4th of November 2022

The Dutch Air Mobile Brigade exercise Falcon Autumn was set in a scenario in which a friendly nation was overrun by enemy forces. The operation excuted in two weeks started with small scale recconaissance and infiltration teams which expanded into full scale attacks of strategic points. These area's were to be assaulted and captured and held for several days. All kinds of aspects were practised - a FARP (Ginkelse Heide) and FOB (Deelen airbase) were established, emergencies trained. In the final days a former airfield near the Dutch coast line located betweeen densely populated area's was attacked and captured.

Many photo's were taken during Falcon Autumn by enthusiasts all over Holland. I myself only had one opportunity to visit the main helicopter operating base of De Peel airbase which normally only houses Dutch anti air units.

Falcon Autumn 2022 brought a very large number of particpating helicopters to Holland for the Air Mobile assaults and support. Polish Hip's (3xMi8) and United States Army Chinooks (5xCH47F), Apaches (6xAH64D) and Blackhawks (8xUH60M) operated from De Peel. The Dutch DHC supported the operation with 4 Chinooks, 2 Cougars, 2 NH90's and 3 Apaches which were rotated/ supplemented by more.

A Dutch AS532 Cougar leading the way for the three Polish Mi-8 Hips after take-off; below: Dutch Apache and Cougar on the flightlines, 2 Dutch Marine NH90's preparing for take-off.

The deployment of 19 US Army helicopters consisted of a mix of Apaches, Chinooks and Blackhawks. The Blackhawks had two models with large external fuel tanks and two of the Apaches were modified with Longbow radars.

Although this particular day was very cloudy I still managed to make some interesting shots of the flights departing De Peel - especially the large amount of (hectic) hovering helicopters awaiting take-off. The US helo's flew a 3-ship 'Duke 17' Blackhawk flight, an Apache 4-ship and a larger Chinook/Blackhawk flight ('Grit 42') which consisted of 4 CH47F's and 3 UH60M's (including both Blackhawks with external fuel tanks).

A small impression of the Falcon Autumn flightline - which used the entire De Peel (out of order) runway. Visible are 8 Blackhawks, 8 Apaches (5x US Army and 3x RNLAF), 2x NH90 and 2x AS532 Cougar. Not visible on this photograph are 9 Chinooks on the right (5x US Army and 4x RNLAF) and 3 Polish Mi8 Hips.

The Polish Mi8 Hips were of 1dlot. Two of these were standard Mi8T's while the third one was a Mi8MT ('6105'). The Mi8MT had (flightcrew) protective armour side shields in front of the cockpit and protective engine intake covers combined with different exhausts. While hovering they turned towards the escorting Dutch Cougar which met them head on, making all three Hips turn around again. The Cougar led the way for the three Hips in their Wildcat 31 flight.

All US Army Apaches were of the 1/3AVN. After take off both Longbow models lead the formation.

Participating helicopters this day:

CH47F 298sq: D-473, D-485, D-601,D-602             
AS532 300sq: S-444, S-459                                      
AH64D 301sq: Q-01, Q-22, Q-24 
NH90 860sq: N-195, N-319
Mi8T 1dlot: 639, 649
Mi8MT 1dlot: 6105
AH-64D 1/3AVN: 07-07046, 08-07048, 08-07049, 09-05585, 09-05591, 10-05620
UH-60M 1/214A AVN: 10-20276, 10-20311, 10-20314, 15-20741, 15-20743, 15-20744, 15-20745, 15-20754
CH-47F  1/214B AVN: 13-08134, 13-08432, 13-08434, 13-08435, 13-08437