ALAMOGORDO, N.M. — The German Air Force Flying Training center celebrated another year of successful missions at Holloman Air Force Base on Wednesday.
The GAF brought in the New Year at the Desert Sands Enlisted Club at Holloman. Military and civilian leaders gathered at the event to support the GAF FTC.
Commander of the GAF FTC, Colonel Armin Havenith, and his wife, Monika, greeted guests at the door to show their appreciation. Colonel Havenith also addressed the guests during the event with a speech.
"Again, from the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everybody for their constant help and assistance over the last years," Colonel Havenith said. "I hope that we continue to foster our strong, well-established relationships for the benefit of all of us."
During his speech, he reflected on the beneficial relationships the GAF has formed with the community. He also spoke about the accomplishments the GAF FTC has achieved while at Holloman.
"Last year, the German Air Force Flying Training Center's mission was to train more than 34 students in numerous courses, Weapon System Training, Tornado Instructor Training and Fighter Weapons Instructor Course (FWIC)," Havenith said. "We were able to finish all courses in time, some even three to six weeks earlier than scheduled."
The GAF FTC also supported over a period of two months the pre-deployment training of the German Army with the Tiger Attack Helicopter and the light support Helicopter NH 90, for their first mission to Afghanistan in December.
The GAF FTC also deployed to Mountain Home, Idaho, for a lead exercise called "Mountain Round Up" where more than 60 aircraft participated in the exercise.
"All this flying training, and I can't emphasize it enough, was accomplished without a major incident," Havenith said. "For nine years in a row now, we can be proud of accident free flying operations."
In July, the GAF FTC was awarded with a flight safety award by the German Air Force Chief of staff.
Havenith said that this year the command and control responsibilities of the GAF FTC would increase due to major restructuring processes combined with budget cuts.
"This means, the German detachment Euro NATO (National Atlantic Treaty Organization) Joint Jet Pilot Training at Sheppard AFB, Texas, the 2nd German Air Force Training Squadron, Pensacola NAS, Fla; and the 3rd German Air Force Training Squadron, Goodyear, Ariz.; as well as Exchange Officers will directly report to the GAF FTC (in Holloman)," Havenith said.
The GAF FTC will also be taking the first steps to prepare for Eurofighter Typhoon operations that are scheduled to start in 2017. According to the Eurofighter website, the Eurofighter Typhoon is the worlds most advance new generation multi-role/swing-role combat aircraft. The Eurofighter is the GAF's newest weapon system.
"As the political guidance was written we had to take into consideration the deployment of 24 Eurofighters starting in 2017 and to take over the responsibilities of the German Air Force Command at Fort Bliss, Texas, in October 2013 as well as address some vital coordination issues with the GAF Training Command, Cologne, for the GAF training in the United States," Havenith said.
Havineth said that the GAF FTC faces major operational challenges this year beginning in April when they will conduct their Fighter Weapons Instructor Course. This year, the GAF FTC expects the highest number of participating aircraft in the history of its existence. Havenith said they could be working with 90 to 100 aircrafts at a time. While dealing with all the aircraft; the GAF FTC will still have to manage their flight safety in order to pass inspections and evaluations. Havenith said that the GAF FTC hopes to continue its training programs with as much success as they have had in the past. Other members of the community and members of the 49th Wing shared Havenith's sentiments.
"The German Military's footprint here at Holloman looks like it will grow over time as they gain more responsibilities for some of the other German functions that exist in the United States," the 49th Wing Commander Colonel Andrew Croft said. "And for that, we're really happy."
Croft said that the New Year's Reception, which had both GAF FTC and USAF members celebrating together, "epitomized the partnership and camaraderie that is shared at Holloman."
"I believe that together the community, the German Air Force and the U.S. Air Force can become partners and build a great community," Alamogordo Mayor Susie Galea said.