The following is an English-language executive summary of the 17 July report by the former Catalan National Assembly's Defence Policy Working Group, now Military Studies Society, outlining the possible shape and composition of the future Catalan Air Force. The full, unabridged, report is also available in English. A similar report on the reconstituted Catalan Navy is also available in English in full and as an executive summary.
* This document is not a final blueprint on the dimensions and hardware of Catalonia's Air Force, but an outline proposal.
* The text starts from scratch concerning hardware and personnel, making no reference to possible assets to be inherited from Spain's Defence Ministry or to Spanish military personnel wishing to join the Catalan Defence Forces.
* To avoid duplicities and redundant capabilities, the Catalan Defence Forces will have a single Joint Chiefs of Staff, bringing together elements from the three forces (land army, air force, and navy).
* All procurement suggestions are made taking into account, among others, the easy availability of spare parts, with the goal to ensure a truly operational force.
* Two stages are considered.
FIRST STAGE: UP TO A DECADE AFTER RECOVERING INDEPENDENCE
Three priorities in the first stage: control over air space, mobility and emergencies
* Conventional threats against our air space are almost non-existent, yet this is no reason for Catalonia to ignore them.
* The international community will demand that we exercise control over our air space, as well as over our territorial waters.
* Starting from scratch means avoiding the costly transformation processes that most Western air forces are going through.
* Although we shall not yet be participating in international operations in this first stage, we will have to start practising air mobility, even if only at a tactical level.
* To avoid duplicities and redundancies the Air Force will take control over aerial assets devoted to emergencies, search and rescue, and fire bombing. This will also serve as excellent training for pilots, personnel, and ground crews in peace time.
* Catalonia will need to set up her own Air Force Academy, while sending personnel to train abroad and using existing talent from civilian aviation and fields like physics and electronic engineering.
Units to be set up in this first stage
To secure control over air space, tactical mobility, and aerial support against fires, the Catalan Air Force will need the following components:
1. Catalonia's Air Force Academy
2. Control and Early Warning Command
3. Transportation Command
4. Emergencies Group
5. Logistics and Maintenance Command
Catalonia's Air Force Academy
* It will train existing civilian specialists.
* Initial core of instructors, to be trained in 3-4 years, will fill first teaching slots, complemented with instructors from other countries.
* Due to her experience in the whole spectrum of military operations, we believe that Israel is the country able to provide the best training for our Air
* Instructors to rotate through operational slots.
* In addition to simulators, the following training aircraft will be necessary:
- 5 Helicopters, for example Eurocopter AS555 Fennec.
- 10 propeller-driven aircraft.
- 5 Jet trainers, for example Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet or BAE Hawk
Control and Early Warning Command
* Necessary to enjoy good situational awareness.
* Comprising the following units:
- Air Command and Control Centre
- 3 AEW planes, so that one can be up in the sky at all times.
- 4-6 UAVs, such as Reaper, Predator, or Heron. Mainly in an ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) role but also having combat capabilities.
* Concerning AEW planes, one of the latest versions of the E-3 Hawkeye would be among the best candidates. Large production runs facilitate finding spare parts easily.
* Responsible for managing all land-based radars.
* Aerial mobility in first 5-10 years to be limited to a company, to be followed by purchase of transport planes.
* Initially, this command will comprise two units:
- Transportation Coordination Centre, responsible for planning and commanding the Helicopter Squadron deployments.
- Helicopter Squadron, equipped with 24 medium multi-purpose helicopters, such as Bell 412 (with veteran technology, good performance, and easy maintenance and availability of spare parts). Able to transport a company-sized unit in one go
* All helicopters to be equipped with night-vision systems and ready to take adaptable modules for operations requiring greater fire power than that provided by their own self-defence weaponry.
* Responsible for providing support to civilian agencies in emergency scenarios, with those agencies in command. In Catalonia these are mainly forest fires and torrential rains.
* Comprising organic assets plus others provided by other units.
* Made up of two units:
- A fire-fighting squadron, equipped with 3- 6 medium water-bombers (for example the flying-boat Bombardier 415 Superscooper) and 9-12 light water-bombers (such as the Air Tractor AT-802, able to operate in complex terrains).
- A SAR (Search and Rescue) squadron, made up of assets from the Helicopters Squadron seconded to take part in search and rescue operations.
* On a rotational basis, 25 percent of the Helicopters Squadron's assets and personnel will be seconded to the Emergencies Group. During an emergency, it will also be possible to second light helicopters from the Air Force Academy in a command role.
Logistics and Maintenance Command
* Responsible for the proper working of facilities and for supplying and maintaining Air Force aircraft.
- Airfields Command
- Supply Corps
- Mechanics Corps
* The Military Police, a joint corps shared by the three services (Land Army, Naval Force, Air Force), will be responsible for airfields security.
* Responsible for all logistics activities flowing from Air Force operations.
* After the first stage, fully deployable in international operations.
* In charge of maintaining aircraft in the necessary condition, so that availability always approaches 100 percent.
* Fully deployable in international operations after the first stage.
Volume of personnel and location of main facilities
* Once this first stage is over, the Air Force will have an estimated staff of some 1,600.
* This figure may expand or shrink through a reserve system.
* We support concentrating facilities in Alguaire Airport (in Western Catalonia, near Lleida), while having complementary bases in the airports of Girona, Sabadell, and Reus.
SECOND STAGE: CONCLUDING 15-20 YEARS AFTER RECOVERING INDEPENDENCE
Two goals in the second stage: Force projection and tactical air support
* The Catalan Air Force will be ready, at this stage, to participate in international operations.
* To ensure force projection and tactical air support, the following will be necessary:
1. Integration into the NATO Response Force
2. Integration into the Joint Expeditionary Headquarters, a joint unit bringing together personnel from the three branches: Land Army, Naval Force, and Air Force.
3. Setting up an Attack Squadron
* At the end of this stage, the Air Force will be fully on a par with that of fellow NATO member states. Close to 1,900-strong, while able to expand and contract through a flexible reserve system
The Transportation Command in the second stage
* To be part of the NATO Response Force, the Catalan Defence Forces must be able to project a battalion-sized force by air and set up a regular air bridge to supply the whole battlegroup it is part of. This will require the Transportation Command to add two units:
- Strategic Airlift Squadron, with 5 transport planes. Our favourite is the Lockheed Martin EC-130J Super Hercules.
- Expeditionary Support Group, a variable-size unit made up of personnel from the Airfields Command, Mechanics Corps, and Supply Corps, tasked with ensuring the proper working of aerial facilities assigned to us in the theatre of operations.
* In order to transport larger units, Naval Force assets may be used, together with transport platforms (ships and planes) from bigger allies.
The Attack Squadron
* Responsible for CAS (Close Air Support) and, should it be necessary, for ensuring aerial superiority, neutralizing enemy air forces and anti-aircraft defences.
* It should comprise some 12 multi-purpose fighter planes, 10 single-seat aircraft and 2 two-seaters so that training may also take place.
* We favour the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon, ideally of the C/D variant, easily available in the second-hand market.