By Sascha Jussen and Piet Luijken
Photo: Eric Katerberg
Photo: Jose Soria
Each TLP flying course consists of up to 26 slots (a slot equals one aircraft and its crew), thus some 160 slots are available each year. MoU nations annually buy a certain number of slots, according to their requirements and operational commitments. Remaining slots are offered and sold to further NATO nations which can send detachments as "guest participants": Norway, Portugal and Turkey.
The TLP Flying Branch compiles the six annual flying courses by regarding slot allocations as well as aircraft type and operational role of the aircrew selected by their parent units to participate. In this way, each course normally consists of between 12 and 18 aircraft in an air-to-ground role (attack/interdiction, close-air-support, suppression of enemy air-defences and/or reconnaissance) and of between 4 and 8 aircraft in the air-to-air role (air defence/air superiority). One of the participating detachments of each flying course is also responsible for providing a two-seat or twin-stick variant of their operational aircraft type. The back-seat of this aircraft is occupied by a TLP instructor during missions for monitoring and supervision purposes.
Aircraft types of the flying courses annually reflect almost the full cross-section of tactical NATO aircraft. The following nations' aircraft types are the most common attendants to TLP flying courses: Belgian Air Component (F-16AM/BM), French Air Force (Rafale C and Mirage 2000C/D/N), German Air Force (EF2000 and Tornado IDS/ECR), Italian Air Force (EF2000, AMX ACOL and Tornado IDS/ECR-IT), Greek Air Force (F-16C/D and Mirage 2000EG/-5), Royal Netherlands Air Force (F-16AM/BM), Spanish Air Force (EF2000, EF-18M/BM or the F/A-18A/B), Royal Air Force (Tornado GR.4(A) and Typhoon FGR4) and the US Air Forces in Europe (F-15C/E and F-16C/D).
More rare but nevertheless regular participants of the TLP flying courses are the Royal Danish Air Force (F-16AM/BM), French Navy (Super Etendard and Rafale M), Royal Norwegian Air Force (F-16AM/BM), Portuguese Air Force (F-16AM/BM) and Turkish Air Force (F-4E and F-16C/D).