Catalan Air Force
An 01 July 2014 report by the former Catalan National Assembly's Defence Policy Working Group [now Military Studies Society], outlined the possible shape and composition of the reconstituted Catalan Air Force. "Since we do not want to speculate either on the outcome of the negotiations on defence assets to be inherited by Catalonia, or on the Spanish military personnel that may wish to join the Catalan Defence Forces, this document only takes into account the real estate assets owned by the Spanish Defence Ministry and located in the Principality of Catalonia.
"The text starts from scratch concerning hardware and personnel.... If we really want to be taken into account, the international community will demand that we exercise control over our air space, as well as over our territorial waters. In any case, we have the advantage of being able to devote to these goals the means that are really necessary, avoiding the costly transformation processes that most Western air forces are going through."
Although one can go quite far with simulators, it is a must to have at hand training planes. As a result, the Air Force Academy will have:
- 5 Helicopters [for example Eurocopter AS555 Fennec]
- 10 propeller-driven aircraft
- 5 Jet trainers [ie, Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet or BAE Hawk]
In order to be able to effectively respond to threats, we need to enjoy good situational awareness. This will be the job of the Control and Early Warning Command. It will be made up of 3 AEW planes. "At present, unmanned systems have not evolved sufficiently to take over AEW tasks, which is why we are currently betting on manned systems. In this scenario, one of the latest versions of the E-3 Hawkeye would be among the best candidates. The large production runs will also facilitate finding spare parts easily, an issue which is not minor at all".
As for the Transportation Command, in the first five to ten years, both because of the size of the Land Force and the lack of officers of OF-4 rank and above, it could not plan aerial mobility over and beyond a company. It would not be taking part in international deployments yet, and therefore it would be possible to postpone the purchase of transport planes.
The Helicopter Squadron will need to comprise 24 medium multi-purpose helicopters. It will be able to transport a company-sized unit in one go. "We favour the Bell 412, since it is a veteran technology, with good performance and easy maintenance. Thanks to the long production runs, it is relatively easy to purchase spare parts."
The Emergencies Group will need to have a fire-fighting squadron, and a SAR squadron. The SAR Squadron would be made up of assets from the Helicopters Squadron seconded to take part in search and rescue operations. The Fire-Fighting Squadron would need to comprise between 3 and 6 medium water-bombers and between 9 and 12 light water-bombers. For the medium aircraft "the Bombardier 415 Superscooper, a flying-boat widely used in fire bombing, is our preferred choice, both in terms of performance and ease of maintenance." for the light aircraft, "Air Tractor AT-802, originally conceived to support agriculture, has turned out to be an excellent fire- fighting plane. Its small dimensions, together with its manoeuvrability, allow it to operate in complex terrains."
"Once this first stage is over, we estimate that the Air Force will have a staff of some 1,600. As in the other branches of the Catalan Defence Forces, this volume may expand or shrink through a reserve system. Concerning infrastructures, we support concentrating facilities in Alguaire Airport (in Western Catalonia, near Lleida), while having complementary bases in the airports of Girona, Sabadell, and Reus."
In the second stage of development, "The Strategic Airlift Squadron will be equipped with 5 transport planes. With this figure, we would not just guarantee the capability to transport a light infantry battalion in one go, but we would be able to set up a regular air bridge to supply that battalion together with the rest of the 'battlegroup' it was part of." The report stated that "We favour the Lockheed Martin EC-130J Super Hercules, since this plane, in service for decades, has proven to be a trustworthy medium transport platform. Thanks to the long production runs (of different versions, regularly upgraded), it will be very easy to find spare parts."
According to the study, "The Attack Squadron will be responsible for CAS and, should it be necessary, for ensuring aerial superiority. It should comprise some 12 multi-purpose fighter planes, 10 single-seat aircraft and 2 two-seaters so that training may also take place." The study noted "We favour the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, which, in addition to its 'all weather' capability and excellent manoeuvrability, has been produced in large quantities. This guarantees the possibility of acquiring planes and spare parts at reasonable prices. Ideally, we should look for surplus planes of the C/D variant."
"At the end of this stage, between 15 and 20 years after independence, the Air Force will be fully on a par with that of fellow NATO member states. Concerning its personnel, it will be close to 1,900, able to expand and contract through a flexible reserve system."
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