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Army
Ministry of Defence
Army

Ejército de Tierra

Feature Articles

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Number: 50

A Permanent Mission

How can you protect yourself from a threat that falls from the sky? One part of the answer to this question comes from the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Command, given that this Army Command contributes to uninterrupted national airspace defense and security. It does so by the permanent support of a Land Based Air Defense Unit (UDAA) under the command of the Defense and Air Operations Command (MDOA), created in 2012 as a unifying force together with the Armed Forces.

 

Report: Beatriz Gonzalo. Photos: RAAA 73, RAAA 74, RAAA 94

 

A Permanent Mission

The UDAA assigned to the MDOA, a difference of which constitutes the realization of training exercises and instruction activities, maintaining an operational character, and is activated various times throughout the year in order to check and better the integration of all components.

From the 24th to the 30th of July, the last activation in the first trimester was on the island of Fuerteventura, in the “Eagle Eye” exercise.  It was also the last exercise for UDAA which led the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment (GAAA) I/73, considering that there is a post rotation between the different units of the MAAA each six months.  This group contributed to the command and control of the operational organization logistical center, such as the 35/90 “Aspide” Battery and missiles.

The UDAA was completed using a “Nasams” Battery, from Group II/73, another “Mistral” from the 71st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment (RAAA), a “Hawk” Battery belonging to 74th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment of Sevilla, and resources from the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment Transmissions Command.

This integration of means with distinctive characteristics and importance guarantees power when faced with diverse types of threats.  As well, in this mission the artillerymen are not alone: they count on the Air Surveillance Squadrons fixed radars (EVA) provided by the Air Force.

 

A Permanent Mission

All for MDOA

In addition, together the UDAA forms a permanent part of the MDOA, an F-100 Frigate from the Army and fighter planes from the Air Force (in this case, there were six F-18 fighter-bombers from the 46th Wing).  This units form a part of the Joint Task Force 1 – that depends on the Joint Chiefs of Staff – for permanent operations. All of these should maintain a level of availability, in the case that UDAA is for five days, signifying the maintenance of perfectly instructed personnel and availability to be deployed to any location nationwide.

Within these possibilities of deployment in national territory, the Canary Islands could be a location that presents greater challenges, caused by their situation as islands and location further from the Peninsula.  Hence the interest in this activation in Fuerteventura, being the first within these fortunate islands.   And the success was double: on the one side because it demonstrated the Land Forces capacity to transfer its UDAA until any point where its contribution is necessary; and the other, because it achieved to establish all connections in order to have integrated the UDAA, as much internally – with distinctive arms systems – as externally – with the MDOA Command System – during the whole operative phase.

 

Leverage Efforts

This last MDOA activation coincided with various exercises led and coordinated by the Air Forces for air defense and control of national airspace.  In the same course, defensive missions were carried out as an answer to attacks and movements from unidentified aircraft, the objective being to train and evaluate the health of the Air Defense System.

Amongst them, highlighting the “Sirio” exercise, the most important Air Defense exercise realized in Spain, which is developed in the Peninsula and in the Balearic Islands from the 22nd to the 30th of June.  The “Sirio” objective is to check present Air Defense plans and activate completely the Air Defense Systems in national territory to verify that all the composed elements act in a coordinated way.

In addition to Land Units, the Navy and the Air Force also participate, serving to reassure their agreement to standards of interoperability, together and allied with anti-aircraft combat training that will be employed when they support operational ground organizations.

Within its execution, with the philosophy to maximize logistics efforts and aircraft flights, including the “Ramstein Guard” which is a tactical activity centered around training in an electronic warfare environment.  It´s for this same motive that the “Eagle Eye” exercise coincides with the annual airspace defensive “DACEX” exercise which took place starting from the 27th till the 30th of June in the Canary Islands.

 

A Permanent Mission

Another UDAA in Lanzarote

While the UDAA assigned to MDOA was deployed in Fuerteventura, a second was also carried out in Lanzarote for the execution of the “DACEX” exercise.

Generated by the 94th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Regiment from the Canary Islands, they integrated a  “Mistral” Battery coming from the 93rd Artillery Regiment and CIS elements (Information and Communications Systems) from the 16th Brigade ‘Canarias’.

The mission during the exercise, in which it was proposed the implementation of a contingency plan against the declaration of a crisis, was to provide mutual support and a fire mass, focusing on anti-aircraft defense at very low, low and medium altitudes in the designated areas on the island of Lanzarote; the Command and Control Post located at the Military Airfield on the island, Fire Element located at the 22nd Air Surveillance Squadron, and the Logistics Support Device, located in the Projection Support Installations (UAPO).

During the whole exercise special attention was paid to masking and concealment measures, and measures of force protection, both in a tactical context and in actual activities and movements, including changes in night settlements.

It was avoided to the maximum that the movements and exercises affected the local population and extreme measures were taken to protect the environment.

 

¿What is an UDAA?

A Land Based Air Defense Unit (UDAA) is an operational organization made up of a heterogeneous composition under a unique command in which there are several united capacities for the anti-aircraft defense contributing to the weapons systems in which it is integrated to.  The composition is variable in function depending on operational necessity and should be able to respond to different types of threats, shuffling resources with different scopes and in each case the system that responds best is used.

A Permanent Mission