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Central Enterprise

Central Enterprise is an annual NATO live-fire exercise. Central Enterprise is designed to test the integrated air defense system throughout Western Europe. Regular exercises which incorporate a major military low flying element over the United Kingdom include Exercises Elder Forest (once every two years), Elder Joust (once a year), Central Enterprise (once a year), Mallet Blow (twice a year), OSEX (once a year) and Salty Hammer (once a year). Some of these exercises test and practice the United Kingdom air defences while others primarily provide aircrews with training in tactical low flying techniques.

The Central Enterprise exercise was designed to evaluate new joint air defense employment concepts. The exercise was a good start for NATO, though Air Force participation was initially relatively scripted in support of the Army evaluation and emphasis was on the evaluation as opposed to training.

The June 1982 Central Enterprise exercise marked the first practical test of the new NATO airborne early warning system.

During the Central Enterprise exercise held at June 1993 in Europe, eight F 117-A's were deployed at Gilzen Rijen in the Netherlands.

Exercise Central Enterprise was the major annual NATO exercise held in central Europe in 1997. The countries that participated in the flying activity were Belgium, Turkey, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Denmark, the USA and the UK. The exercise involved sending strike packages into Germany and the Netherlands. The packages varied between 14 and 20 aircraft, consisting of F-16s, Tornados, B-1s, and AWACS. Opposing forces were represented by six to 10 aircraft, including F-16s, F-4s, Tornados, and MiG-29s. The average sortie duration for these missions was 2.5 hours.

Between May 25 and June 30, 1997 US Air Force Reserve tanker and fighter units deployed to Karup, Denmark to support Central Enterprise. A total of 200 reservists from the 301st Fighter Wing took their F-16s and 95 tons of support equipment to Karup, Denmark, for exercise Central Enterprise. The deployment from the Fort Worth Joint Reserve Base began 24 May 1997 and lasted five weeks. The fighter wing deployed with the 927th and 940th Air Refueling wings from Selfridge Air National Guard Base, Mich., and McClellan Air Force Base, Calif. An E-3B airborne warning and control system aircraft from Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., flown by an AWACS crew from the Reserve's 513th Air Control Group operated out of Geilenkirchen, Germany, to support the exercise. The exercise tested unified maritime operations in the Baltic Sea, interdiction missions with Maverick air-to-surface missiles and defensive counter air missions. The deployment was designed to heighten combat capabilities with realistic combat training and expose Air Force Reserve Command pilots to the capabilities of the MiG-29 Fulcrum. KC-135s from the 927th Air Refueling Wing and the 940th Air Refueling Wing flew 56 sorties and 188.4 hours. F-16s from the 301st Fighter Wing flew 220 sorties and 369.7 hours. An E-3B, manned by personnel assigned to the 513th Air Control Group, unit flew 13 sorties and 93.50 hours while operating from bases in central Europe.

During Central Enterprise '97, in addition to the US presence, Airborne Early Warning (AEW) support was provided from a French E-3 and E-3s from the NATO AEW coalition. The consolidated joint-forces focused their training over the Central and Northern regions of Germany and the North Atlantic against simulated outside coalition aggressors. The two-week exercise allowed the composite force to hone theater missile defense and employment skills.

In 1997 a record number of B-1B bombers were deployed to the United Kingdom May 26-July 3, where they proved the aircraft's capabilities in three NATO exercises. For the first time in the 10-year history of the B-1B bomber, two units became one force at a forward operating location -- the 7th Bomb Wing from Dyess AFB, Texas, and the 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth AFB, SD. Nearly 350 members of the two units fused together to become the 7th Expeditionary Bomb Group in the largest-ever deployment of B-1Bs -- six from Dyess and four from Ellsworth. During the month-long deployment, the group will participate in several NATO exercises.

The crews flew eight sorties a day for Central Enterprise, an annual NATO live-fire exercise that ran June 9-20 and involved airfield attacks and strikes on targets. The maintenance crews have blended together, working side by side on the bombers, and while the Dyess and Ellsworth aircrews remained intact, they often flew each other's aircraft. Support troops also worked together in their chosen specialties. When Central Enterprise wrapped up, the 7th EBG spent its final week of deployment here participating in the NATO naval exercise BALTOPS. During this exercise, the unit will flew over the Baltic Sea, conducting sea surveillance and laying mines. Before Central Enterprise began, Dyess crews participated in the Air Fete '97 airshow and Exercise Brilliant Foil from May 27 through 30. For Brilliant Foil, the crews trained with selected NATO forces in air defense operations and composite air operations, and flew low-level Global Power missions into France.

In June of 1997, two Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC)-equipped U.S. Navy AEGIS cruisers participated in the European air defense exercise CENTRAL ENTERPRISE 97. During the exercise, the Navy ships successfully demonstrated the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) Link 16 combined network with a NATO Airborne Early Warning aircraft and Royal Air Force Tornados.

The Central Enterprise exercise during 1998 combined teams of US Air Force active and reserve components along with NATO multinational air defense forces from various countries. The teams successfully worked and operated utilizing NATO Integrated Combined Air Operations Center to provide close-air support and strategic bombardment missions.



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