The European Defence Agency (EDA) will in the next months organise a European-wide collective air-to-air refuelling (AAR) clearance trial for Italy’s Boeing KC-767 military aerial refuelling and strategic tanker aircraft. The trial is part of EDA’s efforts to address Europe’s AAR capability shortfall.
Mandated by Defence Ministers in March 2012, EDA is engaged in four work strands to increase the European AAR capability: short-term gap filling, optimisation of existing assets and organisation, optimisation of AAR capacity offered by the future A400M fleet as well as the long-term enhancement of Europe’s strategic tanker capability.
Aerial Refuelling Clearance
As a mean to increase the number of AAR clearances for receivers and hereby more efficiently pool & share European aerial refueling capabilities, EDA together with the Movement Coordination Centre Europe and Italy organise a two weeks collective AAR clearance campaign on the recently fielded Italian KC767 aircraft. During the trial, interested Member States will be able to perform the necessary ground and in-flight tests to obtain missing AAR clearances. So far, 10 nations have expressed interest in participating in the trial.
AAR clearances are a prerequisite to interoperability in multinational operations. Europe can today deploy 42 tanker aircraft of ten different types and more than 40% of required clearances are missing. While for critical requirements and war-time operations clearances limited to a specific operation can be issued on a case by case basis, EDA’s initiative will allow for a coordinated approach for full and unlimited clearances. This will increase the flexibility of AAR operations and facilitate immediate deployment of assets in future.
AAR is a critical enabler for air power projection and it is required to enable anything beyond short range air combat operations. A unique force multiplier, it is a fundamental capability embedded in modern aircraft design, not just in combat aircraft, but across the full spectrum of air platforms – including in the near future Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.
European armed forces rely substantively on American assets. This was originally demonstrated in the Kosovo Campaign, and the increased reliance on the US was a lesson from operations over Libya.
Copyright Picture: The Boeing Company