A close-up on Berlin (III)

ILA 2016: A System of Systems approach

The very first thing to grab your attention is the tons of equipment that has been flown in to Berlin by the German Air Force. There are things everywhere you look – occupying every corner and thundering past high up in the air. The Eurofighter Typhoon and Tornado combat jets, the A310 MedEvac, a medical evacuation aircraft for airlifting casualties with severe injuries, the new Airbus A400M transport, the old Transall C-160, plus the CH-53, NH90 and “Tiger” helicopters and unmanned reconnaissance systems. The Navy, Army and military medical services, too, are all exhibiting at the 2016 ILA Berlin Air Show. Together, they make the Bundeswehr the largest individual exhibitor at the event. And this is no coincidence, given that the German Air Force celebrates its 60th anniversary this year. 

For the first two days of the air show, the trade visitor days, the spotlight was on the individual systems and all kinds of new equipment. For the second two days, when the event opened to the general public, the focus shifted to sparking an interest in the forces, as well as to the big flying display. Within the space of just a few minutes, a total of 19 fighter jets, helicopters and transport aircraft took to the skies above the exhibition center on Friday. The Air Force refers to this spectacle as the “air parade”. More or less all of the major aircraft types operated by the Armed Forces today participated in the flyover.   

A system that delivers real added value

The air parade also features a demonstration of a military evacuation operation, which lasted just short of half an hour. With six helicopters and two transport aircraft, soldiers staged a mock rescue of civilians. To show that the work of the Armed Forces extends beyond purely military activities, a forest fire fighting demonstration was performed, in which four helicopters extinguished a simulated fire. To round off the day’s events, the Transall took to the skies again. Six paratroopers jumped from the rear loading door holding a German flag. The Air Force had flown in equipment to Berlin from all over Germany especially for the air show.

As a result, the Federal Armed Forces Pavilion in hall 3 was transformed into a realistic Air Force center. For the Air Force, the event is about more than just putting individual arms, aircraft or vehicles on display. It takes a Systems of Systems approach, which is not about autonomous sub-systems, but rather the intelligent integration and interaction of these sub-systems – especially of manned and unmanned components – to create a large-scale system that delivers real added value.

Ground staff also urgently required

Some 600 soldiers and civilian employees are representing the Bundeswehr at the air show, according to its own figures. Piquing young people’s interest in joining the forces is high on the agenda. When entering the Federal Armed Forces Pavilion, it soon becomes clear that there are plenty of jobs within the Bundeswehr that are not associated with armed service, and this has been the case for quite some time now. Ground staff are also urgently required, trained, for example, in avionics and electronics. Staff to work with the various reconnaissance systems are likewise in demand. Accordingly, the Careers Truck was once again on site to enable visitors and school groups to find out more about military and civilian career opportunities with the Bundeswehr.

Impressions of ILA, Day 3

As seen through a 360-degree camera: A panoramic tour

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