EART14 offers participants a unique opportunity to plan and execute missions within a multinational framework. The exercise has been developed by the European Defence Agency (EDA) in close cooperation with the European Air Transport Command (EATC) and the Dutch armed forces.
Critical force enabler
As most transport and fighter aircraft are not able to cover intercontinental distances in just one sortie, Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) is a critical force enabler and is a requirement for sustained air combat operations. Despite the importance of AAR, European armed forces have suffered from both a lack of equipment and a lack of interoperability in this field. This has led EU countries to rely heavily on US assets in past operations.
In 2011, Defence Ministers tasked the EDA to propose measures to mitigate the capability gap in European military AAR-matters. The EDA has since developed and implemented a global approach to tackling the shortfall of AAR capabilities, which involves increasing the overall AAR capacity, reducing fragmentation of the fleet, and optimising the use of assets.
This approach was endorsed by the European Council in December 2014, where Heads of State and Government approved the Agency’s roadmap on AAR.
Dedicated AAR scenarios
Eindhoven Air Base will be used as Tanker Forward Operating Base (FOB) during the exercise period. The exercise will be done in cooperation with the Dutch Frisian Flag 2014 to provide crews with the opportunity to take part in dedicated AAR scenarios embedded in a highly recognised fighter exercise. EART14 will be developed gradually with exercises becoming increasingly complex in nature over the two weeks, starting from single ship missions and evolving to become part of COMAO missions within Frisian Flag.
The EDA has a comprehensive plan to improve the AAR capabilities in Europe. Mandated by Defence Ministers, EDA is engaged in four work strands in this domain: short-term gap filling; optimisation of existing assets; optimisation of AAR capacity offered by the future A400M fleet and enhancement of Europe’s strategic tanker capability by creating a multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) capability.
As part of this global approach, the EDA, Italy and the Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) jointly organised the first collective European Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) clearance trial on the Italian KC767 in September 2013. This enhanced AAR capabilities, as technical and operational clearances are mandatory to provide or receive fuel and they are thus a prerequisite to interoperability in multinational operations. Aircraft from France and Sweden participated in the campaign to obtain technical and operational AAR clearances against the Italian strategic airlift tanker.