Joint Multi-National Readiness Centre – JMRC
The Falcon Team – Aviation Detachment
A visit by the Royston Herts Aviation Group
Where is and who are the JMRC; it is set in the German Bavarian country-side approximately 100 Kilometres south east of Nurnburg (Nuremberg). The training area covers over 100 square kilometres of ground and is a restricted area. The centre of operations is called Hohenfels although it looks like and for all intense and purpose could be any small military town in the USA. The base for want of a better description lies about 5 kilometres to the West of the village of Hohenfels. The place is so large that it even has its own internal public transport service to assist the locals who work there to get to around the base as well as bring them in from outlying towns.
What is JMRC and what do they do; as the name implies they are Multi-National; the US Army (Europe) (USAREUR) taking responsibility for the realistic and challenging joint and combined arms training of coalition and NATO Countries. Soldiers both Officers and NCO’s are trained in all sorts of combat situations. The Falcon Team provide the Air Support element of the training with the venerable UH-1H Huey helicopter.
At the time of the visit by the Royston Herts Aviation Group – RHAG we were met at the visitor’s entrance to JMRC Hohenfels by Captain Junel Jeffrey the Public Affairs Officer. We then followed her deep into the heavily forested secure base for some four kilometres until we arrived at the Falcon Team area.
The Falcon Team act as both Blue and Orange forces supporting both sides of the training with the Huey painted in two different schemes to represent both the Orange (opposing) painted in scheme to represent the Mil Mi-24 Hind and Blue (friendly) forces.
Seen above are the Blue forces scheme worn by the UH-1H’s of the Falcon Team and the Mi-24 scheme on another UH-1H of the Falcon Team.
The Falcon Observer / Controller (OC) Team assists the rotational commander in training the unit during his/her rotation at Hohenfels. The mission as quoted by their web-site is to “improve the training readiness of the rotational unit by observing training events and providing feedback to the unit leadership in the form of after action reviews (AAR)”. The feedback covers every spectrum of the orders, rehearsals and missions.
The Huey carries an array of radio and other sensitive and non-sensitive equipment in order to enable communication with the Ground Troops and in part to act as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) for the same troops.
Before any scenarios can be started one of the Huey’s will be dispatched to clear what is affectionately known as the “playground”. By “clear” they mean they have to visually check that there are no stray people or animals in the vast swathe of land used as the training ground. Although the area is restricted animals don’t read too well and some humans seem to have the same problems understanding a “Danger - do not enter sign”.
The aged Huey’s lack a FLIR system or other electro-optical sensors to aid detecting heat sources (Human or animal) so the mark one eyeball has to be used for the clearing process. Once the “playground” is cleared the training scenarios can begin and at least one Huey is deployed at the start of each scenario.
During our visit two such Huey’s were deployed both sporting the Orange Forces “Aggressor” scheme albeit one had to return shortly after take-off due to a maintenance issue that was soon rectified by the on-site Technicians.
A few minutes after its re-deployment the “playground” was attacked first by four A-10A Thunderbolt II aircraft based at Spangdahlem AB, Germany then a pair of German Air Force Tornado ECR’s followed by a pair of French Mirage 2000’s. As far as we could tell there was no live firing this time. About two hours after the Huey’s departed they came back to base for a re-fuel before yet again re-deploying to the “playground”.
Three of the Falcons aircraft were in the hangar receiving maintenance; one of the Technicians informed us that a complete engine change can be achieved in about 4 hours and a complete rotor hub assembly in less than 8 hours. The Huey is the last of the non-technical helicopters on the US Army inventory.
It is rumoured that in the not too distant future the Falcon Team will be the recipient of the newly procured LUH-72A Lakota which is based on the EADS/eurocopter EC-145 produced locally at Donauworth, Germany. It is anticipated that these aircraft will be licence built in the USA by EADS/eurocopter America.
On Med-Evac standby at Hohenfels was a UH-60A from the 45th Med. Co; the crews rotate about every seven days from their parent unit at Katterbach AHP, Germany.
UH-60A 82-23755 of 45th Med Co.
The UH-60 Blackhawks would fly into the combat area to retrieve any casualties that may come about during the exercises. For the most part the crews rest and hone their medical skills just “in case” they are needed.
A dedicated team of Technicians strive to keep the Huey’s flying and supporting the ground forces on the training area. Their camaraderie shines out even if the weather at the time of our visit didn’t. As a Group we couldn’t have been made more welcome at the Falcon Team, Hohenfels.
In conclusion it was a privilege to visit JMRC the Falcon Team at Hohenfels and our sincere thanks to Captain Junel Jeffrey the Public Affairs Officer for bringing it all together for us and making it happen. Our thanks to CWO 3 Sweat and Staff Sergeant David Miller for a very entertaining morning looking at and photographing the Huey’s.
Also our thanks must go to the Crew of the Blackhawk for taking time out to show us around the aircraft and engage in conversation about their role(s) within the Aero Medical unit to which they are attached.
If I have one regret it is that we didn’t have longer to spend there but due to the exercise in progress it was not possible so maybe in the future and before the demise of the Huey from service we will be welcomed back.
To all Aviation Enthusiasts/Spotters a word of warning; if you haven’t been invited to Hohenfels don’t even consider trying to see anything from the outside. The “playground” as described above is well away from the publically accessible roads and footpaths. The Falcon Team’s premises are also out of sight of the public highways. Play by the rules and you’ll be okay.
Finally we as a Group would like to wish Captain Junel Jeffrey every success in her re-deployment wherever that may be it was our pleasure to meet you and thank you for your cooperation and assistance. We also wish you well in your personal “quest”.
Alan “Addo” Addison
List Owner – RHAG