Ramstein hosts NATO interoperability initiative

***image1***An exceptional guest visited Ramstein from  July 17 to 20 – a Russian Ilushin-76 military transport aircraft. Together with the plane, nearly 20 Russian Federation Air Force pilots and chief loaders were involved in a NATO initiative conducted with the RF.

The visit was part of a Strategic Air Command Europe initiative: the NATO-Russia Interoperability Framework Program.

The NRIFP provides for both political and military commitment with the Russian Federation. Major elements of this program are live exercises with military transport aviation assets.

There have been previous contacts under this program between Component Command-Air HQ Ramstein and the RF Air Force. In Feb. 2006 NATO Air Force representatives paid a successful visit to Moscow and Tver Air Base.

Meanwhile the RF confirmed that they have funding to deploy an IL-76 to Ramstein for interoperability trials this year. This trial is a precursor to RF participation in a NATO exercise in 2007 (which is to be confirmed) where the intent is for them to provide transport aircraft for deployment/redeployment of NATO forces.

The program could lead NATO to a closer partnership with the RF and a useful cooperation with RF military.

The Russian delegation was headed by Maj. Gen. Yerofeev from Almaty in Kazakhstan. CC-AIR HQ Ramstein acting chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Piotr Lusnia, and Brig. Gen. Athanasios Panagiotopoulos from SHAPE welcomed the group.

The program for the four days of NATO-Russian teamwork at Ramstein included theoretical and practical training elements for loadmasters, engineers and pilots, safety briefings, joint inspections and demonstrations as well as maintenance interoperability training, mission planning, loading procedures and the cargo handling process.

Administration and paperwork – a requirement on both sides before flying a mission – were also included.
(Courtesy of CC-AIR HQ Public Information Office)