The LP Trueno joint Spanish/French paratroop exercise which involved 2,300 soldiers backed up by helicopters and hundreds of vehicles, including the Centauro armoured vehicle and the CAESAR self-propelled gun, ended last week at the San Gregorio training ground (CENAD – Centro Nacional de Adiestramiento) in the northern Spanish city of Zaragoza.
The Spanish soldiers came from three Parachute Brigade (BRIPAC)
regiments, the General Headquarters Battalion, the Zapadores Parachute Battalion (BZPAC VI) and the Parachute Logistics Group (GLPAC VI). They were joined by the Campaign Artillery Group VI (GACAPAC) which deployed two of its batteries, one a Spanish made
155mm SIC (Sistema Integrado de Artillería de Campaña), the other a 105mm British-made Light Gun.
On the French side, 85 personnel from the 35th Parachute Artillery Regiment, part of the 11th Parachute Brigade (11e BP) took part in the exercise. They brought with them four 155mm CAESAR (CAmion Equipé d’un Système d’ARtillerie) artillery systems which fired 200 rounds in a fire-support drill.
The Spanish Army’s Airmobile Force, FAMET (Fuerzas Aermóviles del Ejército de Tierra), deployed Airbus Helicopters’ Cayman NH90s, Tigers and Super Puma/Cougars together with Boeing’s CH-47D Chinooks while their French counterparts from the ALAT (Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Terre) deployed a Tiger and a Cougar.
The exercise began on 17 May and ended on 23 May. One of its most spectacular aspects was when 50 paratroopers, equipped with oxygen masks, jumped from an altitude of 8,000m to infiltrate the operation zone in order to set up a landing zone for some 500 other parachuters to land later. The first 50 were also tasked with securing the zone. The exercises involved both conventional and assymetrical warfare, including electronic warfare, and some were undertaken at night… although the full moon helped a bit!