Air Show Report : Tag der Bundeswehr 2019 Jagel / Nordholz / Faßberg
Tag der Bundeswehr 2019 Jagel / Nordholz / Faßberg
The German Armed Forces has its annual open day at a number of selected bases across the country. In 2019 the event was held at Jagel air base, Nordholz naval air base, and the helicopter base at Faßberg. Helmut Richter visited all three air bases on or around the day.
The Tag der Bundeswehr (Day of the Armed Forces) is an annual event, which was established in 2015. Its objective is to strengthen the relationship of the Bundeswehr with the regional population by showcasing their mission, activities and equipment and to present itself as an attractive employer. Both objectives had become increasingly important after the universal and compulsory military service had been suspended in 2011. Each year, a selection of locations participates in the event on the same day in early June. By design, the individual events typically are not very large and international participation is very limited.
Still, as far as participation of air bases and their based units is concerned, the Tag der Bundeswehr over recent years has produced some rather nice events because the local organisers have endeavoured to produce small but interesting display programs and upfront spotter events to satisfy the enthusiast clientele.
2019 was a special year, because three air bases in Northern Germany participated in the Tag der Bundeswehr held on Saturday, June 15. These were Jagel near Schleswig, Nordholz near Cuxhaven, and Faßberg in the middle of Lüneburg Heath. In the same week, the festivities for the 70th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift were held, involving a large number of airworthy C-47s touring the air bases involved in the airlift 70 years ago. These included the three bases participating in the Tag der Bundeswehr as they are all former RAF bases. Additionally, the Taktisches Luftwaffengeschwader 51 (TaktLwG 51 - Tactical Air Force Wing 51) based at Jagel announced that they would celebrate their 60th anniversary at the event and invite international partners to participate.
Fortunately, the dilemma of three events occurring on the same Saturday was resolved by TaktLwG 51 holding a spotter day on the Thursday prior and the Marineflieger (Naval Air Arm) at Nordholz opening their doors for enthusiasts on Friday afternoon. A spotter day was also organised at Faßberg on the Thursday. Eventually, I decided to make a round trip visiting Jagel, Nordholz and Faßberg on the three consecutive days.
TaktLwG51 ‘Immelmann’, formerly AG51 (Aufklärungsgeschwader 51 - Reconnaissanace Wing 51), is one of two remaining Luftwaffe wings equipped with the Panavia Tornado and is operating a mixture of ECR and IDS variants with a nominal strength of 37 aircraft. It is the only Luftwaffe wing with a reconnaissance role and has additionally taken over the Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) role from JaboG32 (Jagdbombergeschwader 32 – Fighter Bomber Wing 32), when this unit disbanded in 2013.
The spotter day was planned to offer the opportunity for viewing a mixture of arrivals and rehearsals for the Tag der Bundeswehr on Saturday. The schedule had to be rearranged several times because of changes in arrival times. Several rehearsals were performed more than once, in particular the CH-53GA solo display, while other aerial displays had to be cut to a single pass, for example the fly-by of a P-3C Orion from MFG3 (Marinefliegergeschwader 3 – Naval Air Wing 3). Highlights were the presentation of Tornado IDS 43+25 in its special livery for the wing’s 60th anniversary and the arrival of several C-47s participating in the Berlin Airlift 70th anniversary. For a ‘Tag der Bundeswehr’ event, the participation by foreign air forces was quite attractive at Jagel and included aircraft from Italy, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Nordholz is the only remaining naval air base in Germany, housing two Marinefliegergeschwader (MFG - Naval Air Wing) units of the German Navy’s Air Arm. MFG3 ‘Graf Zeppelin’ operates eight P-3C Orion MPAs while MFG5 consists of two squadrons operating the Seaking Mk 43 and Lynx Mk 88. Both helicopter types are due for replacement in the coming years by the different versions of the NH90.
The air base had organised a short spotter event on the afternoon before the ‘Tag der Bundeswehr’ with the possibility to just view the small but interesting and well exhibited static display. In the morning, a number of arrivals and rehearsals could be viewed from outside the base. Participation from abroad comprised a French ATL2 (Altantique II) maritime patrol aircraft and a British Wildcat HMA2 maritime helicopter.
Faßberg is a rather interesting air base, which is completely inaccessible in terms of viewing it from outside. This fact makes any public event on base particularly interesting. The base is home to Transporthubschrauberregiment 10 ‘Lüneburger Heide’ (THR10 - Transport Helicopter Regiment 10) with its NH90s and the Northern element of the Technische Ausbildungszentrum der Luftwaffe (TAusbZLw – Air Force Technical Training Centre), which uses a wide range of retired aircraft for technical training. It also houses the Deutsch-Französische Ausbildungseinrichtung ‘Tiger’ (German-French Training Establishment ‘Tiger‘) which provides technical training on the EC665 Tiger, while joint flight training on the Tiger is performed at Le Cannet des Maures in France. See also our 2016 Faßberg report for more information on the history of Faßberg and THR10 and introduction of the NH90.
The weather on the public day was rather dull, although it was still better than the forecast. The static display was only a small number of helicopters and difficult for photography, but the flight display programme was rather attractive. It was organised into two segments in the morning and in the afternoon. Each segment had a number of solo displays and one major tactical demonstration featuring a range of different aircraft types.
The helicopter solo displays of the EC135, CH-53, EC665 and NH-90 were flown from Faßberg, but the solo displays of EF2000 and A400M were flown coming from their home bases. Unfortunately, the helicopter displays were flown quite far from the crowd line at the limit of the effective range of my camera equipment.
The two tactical demos each covered a different scenario. The first scenario was built around a dike break emergency simulation, for which a dummy dike segment had been built at the base. It featured H145M, NH90 and CH-53 helicopters performing reconnaissance as well as troop deployment and sandbag dropping tasks to support the civil authorities.
The second tactical demo featured support activities for a humanitarian land convoy to a village in a crisis area under threat from hostile forces. It demonstrated the typical roles of the H145M, NH90, CH-53 and EC665 in a complex scenario, which also included airdrop of additional supplies from a
Both scenarios were designed and performed in very credible way and provided a good representation of the complex interaction between different aircraft types and roles of the aviation elements of both the Army and Air Force.
The ‘Tag der Bundeswehr‘ events cannot compete in size and diversity with the major military air show events in Europe. However, they are a good opportunity to see the aircraft of the Bundeswehr in action, which are not regularly displayed in the air outside of Germany. Using the additional arrangements for enthusiasts, the Tag der Bundeswehr in 2019 gave the unique opportunity to visit three participating air bases on three consecutive days, resulting in a good photographic coverage of a wide range of Bundeswehr aircraft types.
Hopefully there will be similar opportunities also at future locations when the Tag der Bundeswehr is held again. The Tag der Bundeswehr was cancelled for 2020 due to the global health crisis.
Report and photos by Helmut Richter ( view portfolio )
Last Modified: 13 June 2020