EDA is working on three work strands to counter Air-to-Air Refueling shortfalls in Europe:
1. Optimization of existing capabilities
Europe’s military tanker fleet is fragmented. To increase interoperability EDA is supporting entities like EATC in organizing AAR training exercises (EART). Worldwide people now realize that a tanker without clearances is not a tanker. EDA has taken the lead to streamline the different certification processes leading to a clearance. By standardizing these processes the different aviation authorities can easily identify the differences between their own process and their counterpart. This pillar includes all tanker and receiver types (A330MRTT, KC767, A400M, KC46). By working together closely already fielded capabilities and future capabilities can work more cost efficient and increase their operational output. Within this pillar EDA leads the project to find subjects which are potential synergies. The focus is on certification, Training, sustainment and common development of capability.
2. Introduction of the A400M fleet AAR capability
This work strand focusses on the acquisition of extra Refuelling pods by for example receiver nations thus increasing the amount of tankers without acquiring additional aircraft. EDA is closely monitoring the development of the A400M and when the time is right this pillar can be reinvigorated.
3. Increasing the strategic tanker capability in Europe by 2020 (MMF)
The Netherlands and Luxembourg last year signied of a Memorandum of Understanding to proceed with the acquisition of a pooled fleet of Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT) aircraft. The signing of the MoU and acquisition contract paved the way for the delivery of two aircraft with options for up to six more when, as expected, other nations join the grouping. The contract also covers two years of initial support.
Recently Belgium, Germany and Norway signed a Declaration of Intend thus confirming their intended participation in the programme, known as the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) initiative.
This increases the overall European tanker capability by fielding a fleet of new tankers (MRTTs) in 2020.