NATO is evaluating the operational capabilities of the Deployable Air Control Centre, Recognised Air Picture Production Centre and Sensor Fusion Post (DARs) during the ongoing Exercise Ramstein Dust I 2015 at Gioia del Colle Air Base in Italy.

During the exercise, the DARS conducted both live and simulated control of various aircraft missions, with the majority of training supported by the Eurofighter Typhoon jets of the Italian Air Force’s 36th Stormo Fighter Squadron.

German Air Force DARS director-colonel Christof Heite said: "Ramstein Dust is a semi-annual exercise during which the DARS deploys to a remote location.

"This allows our men and women to train in different environments with realistic mission scenarios.

"Approximately 100 DARS airmen from 16 allied nations are participating in the exercise."

"We gather valuable hands-on experience for future DARS deployments and have so far proven we are ready for such missions."

Approximately 100 DARS airmen from 16 allied nations are participating in the exercise, which is scheduled to conclude on 30 March.

Allied Air Command commande- general Frank Gorenc said: "The DARS is an important capability for future Nato Air Operations.

"This unit provides forward and persistent air surveillance. It offers the critical communications link between our various weapons systems and higher headquarters.

"Most importantly, it provides our Nato Forces and our Joint Force Air Component with situational awareness and the ability to command and control 24/7 Nato air operations from almost any location on very short notice."

The DARS is scheduled to continue to conduct live and simulated control of aircraft missions until the end of exercise, and the lessons learned from the deployment will represent a major milestone along the unit’s road to reaching full operational capability.

The system is anticipated to become increasingly important during any deployment of the Nato Response Force, which is scheduled to be modernised in the future with an increased focus on readiness and responsiveness.

Image: Visiting generals inside a DARS container where staff monitor aircraft movements in Italy during exercise Ramstein Dust I-15. Photo: courtesy of Nato, photo by Cynthia Vernat, HQ AIRCOM Public Affairs.