The 5th European Air-to-Air Refuelling Training exercise (EART 2018) kicked off today 9 April at Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands. EART 2018 brings together tankers from Germany, the Netherlands, France and - for the first time - from a non-European country, the United States, for a two week training exercise ending on 20 April.
The European Air-to-Air Refuelling Training (EART) concept was introduced in 2014 under the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) air-to-air refuelling initiative, and is run by the European Air Transport Command (EATC) from Eindhoven airbase. The exercise is supported by the host nation (the Netherlands), the Eindhoven-based Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) and EDA.
EART is organised on a yearly basis in combination with the ‘Frisian Flag’ fighter training exercise, also organized by the Netherlands, that operates from Leeuwarden Airbase. The objective is to train air crews and engineers in planning and executing complex air-to-air refuelling (AAR) operations in a multinational and realistic COMAO (composite air operation) environment, with the overall aim of enhancing effectiveness and interoperability of forces. A particular focus is also put on facilitating the certification processes between tankers and receiver aircraft. The exercise director for EART 2018 is Colonel Andrea Massucci (Italian Air Force).
Eindhoven for two weeks “tanker town of Europe”
AAR is a significant force enabler and multiplier as it enhances combat effectiveness by extending the range, payload and endurance of receiver aircraft. It allows air power to be projected at greater distances or concentrated where and when it is needed mostly. “Air-to-air refueling capacity is the backbone of modern day air power. Without it, we don’t do much. Air power continuously needs fuel”, said Lieutenant-Colonel Harry Oostema, Head of Operations at Eindhoven air base.
However, delivering a guaranteed, continuous coverage of air-to-air refueling capacity is challenging. “That’s why we need to train together. The European air-to-air refuelling Training (EART) at Eindhoven air base provides us with that unique opportunity”, Lieutenant-Colonel Oostema stressed. “For two weeks Eindhoven air base will be the tanker town of Europe”.
Background: EDA’s global approach on AAR
EDA has developed a global approach on AAR with three objectives: optimizing the use of assets, increasing the overall AAR capacity and reducing fragmentation of the fleet. This work has led to three complementary work-strands, on some of which EDA is cooperating closely with other agencies and organizations like OCCAR, the Movement Coordination Center Europe (MCCE) and the European Air Transport Command (EATC).
EART 2018 is part of the first work strand (optimization of existing capabilities), which is achieved by supporting training exercises. In this domain, EDA has also 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. By working closely together, already fielded capabilities and future capabilities, can work more cost efficiently and increase their operational output.