An irregular warfare with conflicts between insurgent, paramilitary, and resistance groups: This was the scenario the Brazilian Air Force (FAB, in Portuguese) used in Operational Exercise Tápio (EXOP Tápio, in Portuguese), which took place between August 10 and September 4, 2020. The objective of the exercise was to maintain the operational capabilities of aviation and infantry units as well as rapid response in different missions, such as humanitarian operations, rescue, law enforcement, peacekeeping, and aeromedical evacuation.
The third edition of EXOP Tápio was divided into two phases. The first phase included training on low-altitude cargo drops and navigation, and operational training of service members. During the second phase, service members conducted joint operation flights with rotary wing aircraft, fighter jets, and transport aircraft, as well as parachute drops.
More than 50 aircraft participated in the exercise that mobilized some 1,300 service members from 25 squadrons from various regions of Brazil, as well as service members from the Brazilian Army and Navy.
Tactical design of the exercise
According to FAB Major General Luiz Cláudio Macedo Santos, EXOP Tápio director, the exercise was created based on what the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization currently do. “The standardization of procedures was a result of the ongoing exchange and the partnership with the U.S. military,” he said. “FAB Service members participated in the Green Flag exercise last year in the United States. The training concept is similar to what is used in EXOP Tápio. In addition, U.S. Air Force officers took part in the second edition of the exercise, in 2019, here in Brazil,” he added.
Composite Air Operations
One of the highlights of EXOP Tápio’s third edition was the Composite Air Operation (COMAO), also known as a package, carried out on August 22. During the activity, 20 aircraft from different branches took off within short periods of time to conduct required missions in an irregular warfare environment, according to the exercise’s scenario, such as attack, search and rescue, and deployment of troops and supplies.
According to FAB Major Rodolfo Santos Moura, who served as mission commander, the greatest challenge was to prioritize flight safety without compromising operability. “The main focus of the package is to provide safe training,” he said. “This COMAO format promotes the participation of almost all FAB branches in a single training environment,” he said.