During the official visit to the Croatian Armed Forces, the USAREUR and U.S. Army NATO…
On 4th October, Eugen Kvaternik Training Area in the central Croatian town of Slunj hosted a presentation of the Range Control Tower, built by the United States Air Force in Europe (USAFE) and donated to the Republic of Croatia by the United States of America.
The presentation also featured a demonstration of JTAC capabilities with three U.S. Air Force’s F-16 aircraft from Aviano Air Base in Italy and two Croatian Air Force’s OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters.
On the occasion, Minister Krstičević underlined: “A new strength of the Croatian Armed Forces was showcased today. We witnessed Croatian JTACs’ impressive capabilities as they directed U.S. F-16 aircraft, while American JTACs directed the Croatian Air Force’s Kiowa Warrior helicopters. This is a huge accomplishment. Strong and powerful armed forces are built up through unity and partnership.
Minister Krstičević stressed that the tower would enhance the training of Croatian Air Force’s units, especially the crews on OH-58D Kiowa Warrior and MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters as well as the soon-to-be-procured combat aircraft. “We are continuously investing in the Croatian Armed Forces as well as their training areas and barracks, both on our own and in partnership with our allies, and we shall stay committed to that cause,” stated Krstičević while extending his appreciation to all parties involved in the construction of the tower.
U.S. Ambassador to Croatia W. Robert Kohorst stated that the USA could not have a better partner than Croatia, emphasizing: “It is great for us to be able to provide an investment in the Croatian military in the form of a control tower.”
The Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces Gen. Mirko Šundov extended particular appreciation to the U.S. Embassy in Zagreb, the Office for Defense Co-Operation, the Minnesota National Guard and the United States European Command, saying that the control tower would elevate the Croatian Armed Forces’ compatibility and interoperability with their partners and allies: “The United States of America is the Republic of Croatia’s most important strategic partner in the sustainment and development of defence capabilities. Our ambition is to maintain and foster the attained capability level.”
The Range Control Tower, built by the United States Air Force in Europe (USAFE), will ensure safe and successful control of training and live-fire exercises taking place on the aerial shooting range at Eugen Kvaternik Training Area in Slunj. The $850,000 project was fully funded by the USAFE. It will benefit Joint Attack Terminal Controllers (JTACs), qualified soldiers who direct combat aircraft in close air support and other offensive air operations.
The construction of the Range Control Tower was initiated by U.S. and Croatian soldiers following long-standing co-operation in joint training and exercises.
The Range Control Tower will enable advanced bilateral training of the Croatian Armed Forces and the USAFE, development and maintenance of JTACs’ capabilities as well as implementation of operational and safety procedures in the training of Croatian and American JTACs, especially those from Aviano Air Base (Italy), where similar training facilities do not exist. Likewise, the tower will enhance the training of Croatian crews on OH-58D Kiowa Warrior helicopters, MH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and soon-to-be-procured combat aircraft. Furthermore, it will provide Croatian Army units with total control over joint fires and the implementation of air support on the training area as well as help them co-ordinate the use of unmanned aerial vehicles during exercises.
The presentation was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence Damir Krstičević, Ambassador of the United States of America to the Republic of Croatia W. Robert Kohorst, Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces Gen. Mirko Šundov, Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces Lt. Gen. Drago Matanović, Special Advisor to the Minister of Defence Božo Kožul, etc.
Text by DORIS RAVLIĆ
Photo by JOSIP KOPI
Translation by IVA GUGO