COORDINATING THE SHARE USE OF MULTINATIONAL STRATEGIC LIFT AND AIR TO AIR REFUELING ASSETS
Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) is accomplished in order to provide a rapid response, an increase in range and extend the Airborne Operations (in time and/or range) for a wide variety of Military Assets.Planning and carrying out those missions are a time and money consuming business. Based on these facts, the MCCE AAR cell was created in an effort to optimize the employment of existing and future assets of the participating nations in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their capabilities. The AAR Cell’s role is to coordinate between MCCE member nations in order to fulfill different requests of support in accomplishing routine AAR training, taking part in major exercises and/or long range deployment operations.
The planning and scheduling of such a limited amount of tanker resources available inside a very much congested European Airspace is also a major concern for the Movement Coor- dination Centre Europe (MCCE) AAR Cell. Therefore the AAR Cell has also been involved in improving Air Space Management (ASM). A dedicated Air Space Management Officer inside the AAR Cell is working for this matter in order to improve ASM within the various Single European Sky (SES) initiatives coordinated by EUROCONTROL and other EU agencies involved.
In an age of crisis and budgetary constraints, it is essential for European Countries to seek integration, interoperability and cooperation in order to maximize synergies, thereby redu- cing unessential costs. The AAR shortfall in Europe has been recognized especially during real operations (as demonstrated during Operation Unified Protector), and occasionally the shortfall affects national training requirements. The political level of ambition for European Countries to conduct real and sustained air operations in the European Area of interest/Influence, where power projection and massive usage of AAR missions are indispensable, might not be achievable, due to the shortage of AAR assets.
For this reason, the EDA (European Defense Agency) has promoted several initiatives both for the long and short term in order to minimize the AAR shortfall in the coming years, divided into 4 main pillars.
Pillar 1: Short term solution (led by EDA) is focused on AAR service, based on commercial AAR services (CAARS).
Pillar 2: Short-medium term solution is focused on optimization of existing assets and organizations:
Pillar 2a (led by EATC) deals with harmonization of current AAR procedures to efficiently and effectively employ existing and future MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) assets;
Pillar 2b (led by MCCE, EDA and IT) deals with the certifica- tion issue between new tankers and fighters which pre- cludes, presently, AAR multi-national activity;
Pillar 2c (led by UK) deals with GBR offer of Spare Voyager AAR Capacity;
Pillar 2d (led by EDA and MCCE) deals with DIC TA for the AAR missions flown all over Europe;
Pillar 3: Medium term solution (led by EDA) is focused on A400M AAR services through the acquisition of AAR pods and kits
Pillar 4: Long term solution (led by NLD) is focused on the com- mon acquisition and operation of a new strategic tanker.
The MCCE/EDA Pillar 2a is related to Certification of Tankers and Receivers. The AAR cell recognizes the lack of certifi- cation of new European tankers (such as GBR voyager, ITA KC767, DEU A310MRTT) against several European tactical fighters as the main limiting factor for interoperability and integration. As more than 180 bi-lateral clearances are still missing in Europe, the AAR cell is proposing a more coordinated procedure which, respecting national procedures, would allow European nations to save time and money for preparing paperwork and the related flight testing in or- der to certify receiver assets and Tankers.
Flight testing will be coordinated by the AAR cell through ATARES multi-national sorties. Proposed procedure will be tested through the certification of ITA KC 767 against several receiver platforms during the year 2013.
In line with this project MCCE AAR Cell is also coordi- nating the test flight between the nations which are done on a bilate- ral agreement basis.
In February 2013, following a political decision to deploy the German A310 to Senegal to support the French fighter aircraft for AFISMA (African-led International Support Mission to Mali), an urgent AAR clearances process was required. Within a short notice, a test flight campaign has been coordinated from MCCE AAR cell in order for French fighters RAFALE, MIRAGE 2000 and the MIRAGE F1 to obtain AAR clearance against German A310. In more details, after the ground tests performed on the 19th February 2013 in MONT-DE-MARSAN Airbase at the Air Force Operational Evaluation Center (CEAM in France) to check the technical compatibility between the different assets involved, MCCE AAR Cell has successfully coordinated the last part of the certification process of French receivers against German A310 MRTT.
In particular, last 20th and 26th February 2013 the AAR Cell has provided support and expertise in order to coordinate French and German assets, maximi- zing synergies and minimizing flying-time required in order to ful- fill test flights required for the certification.
The first mission was fully dedicated to the RAFALE on SIMONE Refueling Area and the second one on CECILE Area in order to support RAFALE, MIRAGE 2000 and MIRAGE F1. The two-day flying test activity, successfully coordinated by AAR cell of MCCE allowed all Receivers to achieve bi-lateral full clearance.