• 12 September 2018 to 12 September 2018
  • 08:00 - 16:00

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is organizing the first Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) Conference in Europe. It will take place in Brussels on Wednesday 12 September 2018 from 08:30 AM to 17:00 PM.

The conference is an INVITE ONLY event. Invitees are being contacted by EDA and asked to register on a specific conference portal. Admittance to the event is then conditional on final approval and email confirmation by the organisers. 

The AAR conference will bring together key decision-makers from the EU and NATO as well as the wider transatlantic and international Air-to-Air Refuelling community, including industry, to discuss and coordinate respective initiatives and efforts in the AAR domain.

The conference will address the state of play and the way forward for AAR. Discussions will include lessons learnt from AAR operations and possible solutions for remaining shortfalls from political and operational perspectives. The global dimension of the solutions at hand to resolve remaining shortfalls and the role of industry will also be debated.

Scheduled speakers include, among many others, the Defence Minister of Belgium, Steven Vandeput, the Chairman of the Aerial Refuelling Systems Advisory Group (ARSAG), General John Sams, a representative from NATO’s Defence Investment Division, as well as the Chief Executive of the European Defence Agency (EDA), Jorge Domecq.

Date & location

12 September 2018 08:00 AM – 5PM in Brussels


A detailed agenda will be published later.


Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) is a force multiplier and critical enabler for the projection of air power. Modern operations are less defined by national or even alliance-based endeavours but by coalitions of willing participants from anywhere on the globe. In coalition operations, pooled AAR tanker and receiver assets from various coalition partners must be interoperable to complete the mission.

Strategic level communiques from EU and NATO have both highlighted the need for increased AAR capacity and capability. For instance, EU and NATO leaders signed an unprecedented Joint Declaration during the 2016 NATO Warsaw Summit, solidifying their commitment to greater cooperation including in AAR. This Joint Declaration is now under implementation under the guidance of the Member States and Allies. Today, AAR demonstrates how complementary efforts of EU and NATO can tangibly and successfully fill a capability gap.

As of 2025, it is expected to see Europe meeting 70% mark of its stated tanking requirement. While this represents a major increase, it still leaves Europe with an overall shortfall of 30%. To optimise the use of existing assets in AAR, it is vital for nations to increase their interoperability. To this end, common trainings need to be held as a diverse and growing number of training participants leads to increased interoperability and effectiveness in operations. Multinational initiatives that standardise collection, recognition and sharing of data must continue, thus saving participating nations cost, time, and manpower.

In future, Automated/Autonomous Air-to-Air Refuelling (A3R) systems will operate. Therefore, it is imperative for national leadership to set requirements for A3R systems now. A3R also presents an opportunity for multinational development of systems which would reduce defence costs, decongest airspace, and decrease both sustainment costs and logistical footprints.


Further information

For further information, please contact Dion Polman, EDA AAR Project Officer: