Bob Archer and Chris Lofting report on Exercise 'Cruzex IV'
The South American continent is a most fascinating and enchanting land, encompassing thirteen countries, with Brasil the largest (and the fifth biggest in the world). Covering the same land mass as Europe, but with a population only twice that of Germany, Brasil's population live primarily on the coastal fringe, leaving a vast and largely empty landmass in the hinterland. Brasil was colonised by the Portuguese in 1500, before gaining independence almost three hundred years later. Since ejecting Dutch occupants, Brasil has enjoyed a peaceful coexistence with her neighbours, which is reflected in the population who are a kind, relaxed and friendly race. Nevertheless, from 1-14 November open warfare raged across the northeaster part of the country - the area known as Rio Grade de Norte. However, no weapons were involved, and no deaths or injuries sustained, as the region was engaged in Exercise 'Cruzex IV', the bi-annual opportunity for all elements of the Brasilian Air Force, and invited guests to evaluate their capabilities in a fictitious scenario.
Held bi-annually, and alternating with one its neighbouring air arms, planning for the fourth Cruzex began almost a year ago. 'Cruzex' is designed to evaluate military forces operating within a realistic framework of fictitious nations at war - in this case Blue Forces (Coalition) attempting to counter the aggressive actions of the Red Forces (Opponents) based upon a conflict of low intensity. The scenario was an ethnically based situation, with Redland wishing to re-unite Yellowland, which had been partitioned some years earlier. The invasion of Yellowland by Redland forces resulted in the United Nations Security Council issuing a resolution to enable a coalition of forces from Blueland to force the belligerents to withdraw back to their own territory. Redland was located in the area south of Fortaleza, while Yellowland was to the east centred upon the Mossoro region. Blueland occupied the region further east, including the cities of Natal and Recife. In effect, Cruzex is based upon a scenario similar to the United States Red Flag exercise.
air exercise included participation from Chile, France Uruguay and Venezuela,
as well as the host nation Brasil. Argentina was to have participated,
but was forced to cancel shortly before the exercise began. Observers
from Bolivia, Columbia, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, and the USA were also in
attendance - the latter from US Southern Command, with headquarters at
Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. 'Cruzex IV' was designed as a simulated
low intensity air campaign within the constraints imposed by peacetime
regulations and safety issues. A large Brasilian, along the entire overseas
air arms were formed into a coalition force within Blueland, ranged against
the opposition forces of Redland, composed entirely of Brasilian service
Preparing the Exercise
for the exercise began in the spring of 2008, with senior personnel from
JFACC (composed of all the participating members and observers) meeting
to formulate the initial details. Apart from the aviation elements, there
was the need to arrange for all manner of communications, catering, accommodation,
field medical facilities, and a host of other necessities required to
operate effectively. Subsequent regular planning meetings culminated in
the arrival of the first participants on 1 November. The period 3rd to
6th November was devoted to familiarisation flying, and forces integration
training, before the first live exercise was staged on Friday 7th. Saturday
8th was a rare chance for relaxation, with Natal staging a small open
day and air show, although only the Brazilian national display team 'Smoke
Squadron' with the Embraer T-27 Tucano flew. Sunday was a non exercise
day, before the LIVEX recommenced between Monday 10th to Thursday 13th,
devoted to operations as the fictitious scenario was played out. Initially
this consisted of air superiority missions, before switching to interdiction
as the threat from the Red forces air component diminished. Throughout
this phase, the coalition carried out Combat Search-and-Rescue (CSAR)
to locate and recover pilots shot down by the red forces. Towards the
end of the period, national evacuation missions and logistics transport/re-supply
efforts were mounted.
Eyes in the Sky
package had the benefit of command and communications expertise from the
Brasilian Embraer R-99A (currently changing designation to E-99 to more
accurately reflect its electronic mission) to monitor all aerial activities.
Four of these AWACS systems coordinated all Blue forces missions, directing
interceptors to counter attacking red forces. The Red forces utilised
the fifth R-99A. The Brasilians are comparatively new to a sophisticated
airborne command and control capability, which is primarily employed to
monitor the remote Amazon region. The R-99A/E-99 is fitted with the Ericsson
PS-890 Erieye phased array radar mounted in a long fairing above the fuselage.
The system can detect and track targets at a similar distance to the E-3
Sentry, and has both air and sea capabilities. The three R-99Bs were also
used, with two assigned to Redland, and the other to the Blue forces.
The R-99B is equipped with a McDonald Dettwiler Integrated Radar Imaging
System (IRIS), a synthetic aperture radar housed in an under-fuselage
radome, a FLIR Systems AAQ-22 StarSafire
forward-looking infra-red, a Daedalus multi-spectral scanner, various
COMINT and ELINT systems, and on-board recording and processing equipment.
Both the E-99 and the R-99B systems were considered important components
in the exercise, as both are reasonably new in Brasilian service.
The F-5EMs had completed the upgrade programme with the installation of a 'glass' cockpit, a head-up display, cockpit lighting associated with night-vision goggles, and a weapons delivery suite compatible with the latest air to air missiles including the Rafael Python 3 and 4 projectiles. The F-5EM were finished in a dark green and slate pattern, which is gradually being adopted by almost all the tactical elements in the Brasilian Air Force, apart from the Mirages. Making its operational debut at Cruzex IV was the new Brasilian Mirage F-2000. Five F-2000C and a single F-2000B two-seater, based at Anapolis with 1 GDA were amongst the first visitors to arrive at Natal. These have replaced the elderly Mirage IIIBR in the air defence role, and their inclusion in the exercise was in the air superiority role exclusively. The A-1 AMX is the backbone of the ground attack and tactical reconnaissance mission, while the Embraer A-29 is used for light ground attack including interdiction and close-air support.
The benefit of Cruzex extended beyond the advantage derived from mixed flight operations, as all levels of operations were tailored towards NATO-style methods set against a background of planning involving mixed air arms. The value of planning and executing operations with overseas contemporaries, as well as training and exchanging mission techniques, has long been considered invaluable. The training benefits were also extended to ground based air defence personnel to deal with air attack saturation at low and medium altitude. Intelligence personnel were also included in accordance with actual doctrines to improve target procedures and to process damage assessment. Despite Portuguese being the main idiom in Brasil, and the remainder of Latin America speaking Spanish, communicating difficulties were minimised as both languages are understood across the continent. Furthermore English was spoken primarily during flight operations, although this was fairly uncommon within the ground support personnel.
The Overseas Coalition
The overseas contingent carried a variety of markings, with the French Mirages painted in the traditional scheme for their respective roles. The Chilean F-5Es were painted in a light grey scheme, with the national markings of a white star on a dark blue background applied to the rudder. The Venezuelan contingent was much more interesting. All six F-16s were in a Vietnam-war style two-tone green and tan pattern, with a emblem of Grupo Aereo de Caza 16 'Dragones' applied to the tail. However two of the F-16s had an attractive special scheme applied to the tail to denote twenty five years operating the type. The Uruguayan aircraft were painted in a pale grey and dark green camouflage pattern, associated with the counter-insurgency role.
Brasil is a vast country, with all of the overseas participants making refuelling stops, even though some had the assistance of aerial tankers. The Venezuelan and Chilean fighters both had tanker support, as well as a single refuelling and rest stop at Anapolis. The Uruguayan contingent was forced to make three ground stops, as their small air force does not include a tanker capability. In all three cases, the flight to Natal was in excess of 2,000 miles. The French fighter contingent routed from their home bases to Istres, before joining with the C-135FRs tankers for the first leg to Dakar in West Africa. The next stage was completed non-stop to Natal, with each quartet of Mirages accompanied by a tanker. While it may seem a long journey for the French contingent to make, the Armee de l'Air French has a presence at Cayenne-Rochambeau in French Guiana. Furthermore the French aviation industry is anxious to make inroads into the Latin American defence market place, with both new and second hand equipment. The recent sale of a dozen surplus Mirage 2000C/B fighters to Brasil is a perfect example of this sales campaign.
As stated earlier, Natal is a holiday resort which enjoys magnificent beach facilities offering the teams a wonderful area in which to enjoy local amenities during the limited free time. The overseas teams numbered 37 personnel from Argentina (who were limited to observers); 187 from Chile; France 121; 55 from Uruguay; and 166 from Venezuela. Brasil participated with a staggering 1,836 personnel supporting Cruzex, underscoring the importance which their Defence Ministry places upon the exercise. With several new and upgraded aircraft and weapons systems having entered Brasilian service recently, Cruzex was a golden opportunity to evaluate their capabilities and integration. The event enjoyed ideal weather conditions, enabling almost all missions to take place as planned, and without incident. The only down-side was the loss of an H-1H on Friday 14 November, while on a flight from Natal to Fortaleza for a refuelling stop when journeying home to Belem. The helicopter crashed near Aracati, sadly killing the crew of three.