From 4th to 15th of June, the first European Air Transport Training event (EATT2012) will take place in Zaragoza, Spain. Bringing together tactical air transport assets from six states, the course has been organized by the European Defence Agency (EDA), with the vital support of the European Air Transport Command, and is hosted by the Spanish Air Force. The flying event is part of the EDA’s ongoing Pooling and Sharing initiative, through which Member States cooperate to increase defence capabilities and save money. It signals important progress on the EDA’s European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) initiative and its work on Pilot Training, as required by the Agency Steering Board in November 2011.
As part of the EDA’s work to build a culture of increased cooperation among participating Member States and aiming at increasing interoperability in air transport area, the flying event will allow crews to train and qualify together in specific airlift disciplines.
In particular, EATT will consolidate skills in: advanced mission planning; cargo and personnel airdrops; tactical navigation with training of trainers and threat reactions; tactical Air-Land Operations including tactical recoveries, substandard field operations (assault landings), engines running on and offloads and combat offloads; short field landings; formation flying; and night operations.
Six of the EDA’s Member States are participating in this flying event: Belgium (1 C-130 with 2 crews); Czech Republic (1 CASA-295 with 2 crews); France (1 C-130 with 2 crews); Germany (2 C-160 with 2 crews); The Netherlands (1 C-130 with 2 crews); Spain (1 C-130 and 1 CASA-295 with 4 crews).
EDA Assistant Manager Laurent Donnet explained, “The main value of such a training is to effectively fly the techniques, tactics and procedures that were developed and to get used to flying together. There is no substitute for being airborne. Nothing will beat that, even if you have the best and most advanced flight simulator in the world.”
Context: European Air Transport
With budgets under pressure and joint operations more and more common, the need for multinational air transport training has become paramount. It was for this reason that the EDA Steering Board mandated the Agency to take on pilot training as an area of Pooling & Sharing.
A major step towards more combined training as well as harmonization of airlift procedures and processes in Europe was the creation of the Ad Hoc Working Group Tactical Air Transport (AHWG TAT) within the framework of the European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) partnership, an initiative that became a EDA Category A Programme signed so far by 19 participating Member States plus Norway. The AHWG TAT deals with operations and training issues, as well as conducting a yearly European Air Transport Symposium. and conducts a yearly European Air Transport Symposium. In addition, the AHWG TAT, is organizing a second EATT in 2013. With observers from many Member States attending, EATT 2013 is expected to be an even more significant event. All this work will lead to the establishment of a permanent European Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Course (EAATTC) in 2014, modelled on the US course that has operated with great success since 1984.
EDA Assistant Manager Laurent Donnet explained that EATT 2012 is part of a larger effort: “pMS and all concerned organisations and agencies should continue to involve themselves even more in this airlift initiative. A lot of work has still to be done and it is only with the involvement of all that we will make this an even bigger success.”
Context: Aerial Pooling & Sharing
Indeed, defence cooperation initiatives are continuing across the aerial arena. Under the heading of the Agency’s work on Pilot Training, in addition to the air transport initiatives, the Agency is working with pMS to develop an Air Crew Military Licencing system across Europe, using the already delivered EDA analysis of basic helicopter flying training as the start point. This forms part of an extensive and highly successful programme of rotary wing training activity. This year 9 pMS will send crews to tactics simulator courses in the UK and there will be 2 multinational helicopter live-flying exercises in Portugal in July and Belgium in September, involving 10 pMS and over 60 helicopters. All of these signal the excellent progress made by the EDA in the field of European defence cooperation.