On 1 January 2024, the Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC) will reach Initial Operational Capability (IOC) and start operating with a Hungarian deputy commander. The MHTC has been established by the European Defence Agency (EDA) with the support of 14 European countries.
Last week, the official opening ceremony of the Multinational Helicopter Training Centre (MHTC) – established by the European Defence Agency (EDA) – took place on Sintra Air Base, Portugal.
The Hungarian Defence Forces joined the helicopter training programs of the EDA in 2009, first as a professional supervisor, and from 2012 as an active participant. The EDA Steering Board has decided on setting up the MHTC. At the end of the development and harmonization process, on 28 June 2022 the defence ministers of 14 countries signed the Technical Agreement.
Among the high-ranking diplomatic and military representatives of the member states, Portuguese Minister of National Defence Helena Carreiras, EDA Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý, Dr. Emília Fábián, Hungary’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Brigadier General Dr. József Koller, Acting Commander, Hungarian Defence Forces Air Force Command were also present at the ceremony held on 28 November 2023.
In his speech, the EDA Chief Executive emphasized that the MHTC stands on two stable pillars, as the three-week flying phase of the Helicopter Tactics Instructors Course (HTIC) – the most advanced “Train the Trainer course” – was relocated to Pápa Air Base, Hungary in 2021, and will be organized there until at least 2026.
Deputy Commander MHTC Lieutenant Colonel Zoltán Szili told us that it is a huge honor for him to be able to participate in the work of the organization as a representative of the Hungarian Air Force. Lieutenant Szili highlighted that EDA’s helicopter programs have so far been playing a key role in Hungarian professional rotary-wing training; they form the basis of our national tactical training activities, and also contribute to the training of instructors of the THALES Helicopter Commander Tactical Trainer (HCTT) that is operated on the airbase of the HDF 86th Helicopter Wing. With this structure, the system enables our airmen to train for international operations to high standards. The lieutenant colonel added that he was pleased to see that Hungarian helicopter experts can also contribute to the strengthening of the European helicopter capability.
The purpose of the MHTC is to provide high-level helicopter training for European countries, and foster the interoperability of helicopters and the preparedness level of helicopter crews in various operational environments. The MHTC regularly organizes helicopter training exercises, courses and symposiums, on which the participants learn the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) of modern warfare and operations.
The international staff currently consists of Portuguese, Hungarian, Swedish, Dutch and German experts, who are working to further develop and modernize the programs launched by EDA.
At the end of the ceremony, the Portuguese Air Force held a short personnel recovery capability demonstration involving two helicopters, an AW-119 Koala and an EH-101 Merlin.