Pan-European air-to-air refuelling clearance trials underway
The EDA, Italy and the Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) havejointly organised the first collective European air-to-air refuelling (AAR) clearance trial on the Italian KC-767. Starting on 5 September, aircraft from France (one Mirage 2000, one Rafale) and Sweden (three Gripens) participated in the campaign to obtain technical and operational AAR clearances for the Italian strategic airlift tanker. AAR is a critical European capability gap and one of the eleven Pooling & Sharing priorities of the EDA. Mandated by EU Defence Ministers in March 2012, 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 amultinational Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT)capability.
“Italy’s AAR clearance initiative is a cost efficient way to quickly close an important capability gap regarding tanker-receiver certification; given the urgency based on lessons learned from recent operations, we would have welcomed more nations to participate in the clearance campaign”, said Claude-France Arnould, EDA Executive Director. Technical and operational clearances are mandatory to provide or receive fuel and they are thus a prerequisite to interoperability in multinational operations. Taking place in Italy at Decimomannu airbase from 5 to 12 September, France and Sweden were able to perform the necessary ground and in-flight tests to obtain missing AAR clearances.
Today Europe can deploy 42 tanker aircraft of twelve different types for which 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, this campaign allows for a coordinated approach for full and unrestricted clearances. This increases the flexibility of AAR operations and facilitates immediate deployment of assets in future.
Source European Defence Matters Issue 04 2013 (a magazine of the European Defence Agency)