German armed forces include airport in training program

Training and test flights of the A400M and C130 Hercules transport aircraft

Hof - The German Armed Forces are no strangers to Hof-Plauen Airport - Air Force helicopters of the types CH 53 or EC145 regularly fly to the regional airport for training, breaks and refueling.

Now more aircraft are joining them: the German Armed Forces are including Hof-Plauen Airport in their flight program for training and test flights of the A400M and C130 Hercules transport aircraft. "This is a pleasing development for our airport! It shows that the general conditions are right for everyone - whether large or small, private, business or even military," says Managing Director Ralf Kaußler.

A400M - Source Bundeswehr
A400M in flight - Image source: Bundeswehr/Stefan Petersen

The reason why the German Armed Forces are now reintroducing regional airports such as the Hof airfield into their flight program is due to the increased training requirements of the troops. "The A400M experienced its baptism of fire with the troop withdrawal in Afghanistan and showed what it can do. Now that Airbus is finally producing the aircraft without any problems and deliveries are being made quickly, the Air Force again has an increased need for training," says Kaußler.

The C130 Hercules transport aircraft from the U.S. manufacturer Lockheed (
) are also quickly joining the fleet. The German Armed Forces therefore want to operate not only at large military airports such as Wunstorf near Hanover, but also take advantage of the aircraft's characteristics for short runways. In Hof, the regular approach procedures, but also procedures such as the "Sarajevo Approach," as well as loading and unloading with engines stopped and running, are to be simulated and practiced on the apron.

Economically, the military transport aircraft are very attractive for the airport. "The A400M, for example, has a maximum takeoff weight of 141 tons. This means that fees of around 2,000 euros are payable for a landing. Of course, the discount conditions for training and instruction flights also apply to the Bundeswehr," continues Kaußler.

However, Kaußler does not know how often the Bundeswehr will actually fly to Hof. "We can only estimate that the flights will take place about 2 - 3 times a week, comparable to the helicopter flights. Provided that flight plans are posted, we find out about a landing at short notice with an hour's notice. Otherwise, a radio message shortly before reaching the control zone during our opening hours is enough," explains the manager.

Although military flights are mainly part of civil air traffic, they enjoy more freedom than other air traffic participants. For example, flights may sometimes be flown below the minimum altitude limits. Kaußler is particularly pleased that Hof has now been accepted by the Bundeswehr as one of the locations for a training operation. "We are happy about every user of our airport, try to get the best out of it for every customer and make operations as pleasant as possible. The fact that the German Armed Forces also appreciate this makes us all the more pleased as Prestige!".

District Administrator Dr. Oilver Bär also emphasizes the importance of the Bundeswehr for the region. "The Bundeswehr is firmly anchored in our region with the Upper Franconia Barracks in Hof. The cooperation is excellent. I am pleased that this cooperation can now also be further deepened in flight operations with the Air Force to the benefit of both sides," said the district administrator. "The region can be proud of the fact that the airport is also attractive for the German Armed Forces!

However, the population in the Hofer Land region need not worry if they see one or more of these large transport aircraft. Like all other aircraft, the Bundeswehr will try to avoid populated areas for noise protection reasons. However, any noise nuisance cannot be completely avoided.