The Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) is a center of excellence for the advanced training of military combat pilots. It was born as a multinational organization in Germany in 1978, under the auspices of NATO, given that there were seven nations in the German skies sharing defense airspace until the fall of the Berlin Wall.

His beginnings were in Luftwaffe air base in Fürstenfeldbruck, moving in 1979 to the Jever air base in the north of Germany. Until 1988, when it ceased at this headquarters, 71 courses had been given and more than 2,000 NATO pilots was trained.

In March of 1989, coinciding with the decline of the Soviet bloc, the TLP established its headquarters in Florennes in Belgium, where it was endowed with more personnel seeing their work and responsibilities increased.

The TLP expanded its areas of academic knowledge and skills by beginning to provide instruction to allied forces personnel in the summoned courses where it began to change the concept of a central organization with the mission to defend the borders of Germany, training the future tactical leaders to be prepared to face conflicts in other scenarios, starting the TLP to study and establish new NATO procedures to perform tactical air operations anywhere in the world, thus opening its borders.

In 2009, a new agreement was signed between Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, which placed this program outside the structure of NATO, transferring the activities of the TLP and its headquarters in Spain to the Albacete Air Base, known as the Los Llanos Air Base, home of the Ala14 and the Albacete Air Force, MAESAL, perhaps the most important maintenance center of the Spanish Air Force qualified for works on EF2000, F18, F5 and C101.

Although not already in the structure of NATO, this organization and TLP have signed a letter of agreement under which TLP is committed to preparing the pilots of NATO and allied forces to lead missions in joint formations of coalition air strike.

To this end, allied personnel, both pilots and assistants, are trained in all disciplines related to military aerial tactics in combined operations, capturing and introducing new partners and NATO allies in tactical air operations, also sharing experience in air combat strategies and tactics to the dependent agencies of NATO.

Spain has offered the commitment in the Tactical Leadership Program (TLP) at the Albacete-Los Llanos Air Base, through the extension of the current memorandum of understanding, valid until 2019, for 10 more years, giving continuity to the year 2029, to the work that is being developed in this very important training program of the NATO Allied Air Forces. Within the framework of this offer, the commitment to make economic investments in facilities and security is assumed.

Spain joined the TLP organization in 2002 and since the relocation of the headquarters in Albacete in 2009 there have been 25 flight courses, in which 624 combat crews have graduated.

Three or four flight courses are held each year, apart from eleven academic courses, with an average attendance of 300 participants. Since 2009, more than 2,100 students have passed through the academic courses of Albacete.

Each course involves the displacement of about 1,000 people to the city of Albacete to meet the maintenance and logistical support needs of the participants, also influencing other economic sectors such as hotels, restaurants and various auxiliary companies.

According to the Ministry of Defense, “the privileged location of the base in Albacete greatly facilitates the development of the missions, both due to the weather conditions and the air space available, and has a quantitative and qualitative impact on the enrichment of the city, providing a large number of tangible benefits. A study of economic impact conducted by the University of Castilla La Mancha estimated in one hundred and twenty (120) jobs a year the activity generated by this Center“.

In this year’s celebration, Germany participated with two Tornado and two Eurofighter EF-2000; Spain with 1 Eurofighter EF-2000, 1 EF-18/M Hornet, 1 Harrier AV-8B+; 1 Northrop F5-B and 1 CASA C-101 Blackbird; The United States participated with 2 F-16 CM of the expeditionary squadron based on Aviano; Italy took 1 Tornado and 1 AMX fighters; Poland 1 CASA 295 and 1 MIG-29 Fulcrum; France with 1 RAFALE and 2 Mirage 2000D and the United Kingdom with 2 Tornado GR4.

Some of these combat aircraft were exhibited in an open day and in an aerial demonstration that fascinated the thousands of people who attended the commemoration of this 40th anniversary of the TLP.

Source: Spain Ministry of Defense and TLP
Photo credits: Antonio Rodriguez Santana

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