EART 2019, the European Air Refuelling Training exercise, was recently conducted at Eindhoven Air Base for the sixth time and Jeroen van Holland was there to report for Global Aviation Resource.
Taking place from 31 March to 12 April, EART 2019 was led by the European Air Transport Command (EATC), the headquarters of which is located on Eindhoven Airbase in the Netherlands.
The EATC is a unique organisation within Europe and manages military air transport, air-to-air refuelling and aero-medical evacuation, and the organisation’s overall objective is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the member nations military air transport operations.
Inaugurated in September 2010 by four founding members, namely The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany, EATC was joined by Luxembourg in 2012 and this was followed by Spain and Italy in 2014.
At the core of EATC is an innovative business model where member nations are able to transfer authority of designated assets over to EATC itself. It is important to note however that they can revoke this transfer of authority at any moment in order to safeguard their own national caveats whenever necessary.
One of the main domains is the air-to-air refuelling task and EATC is considered to be Europe’s expert in this area.
Air-to-air refuelling is a major air power force multiplier and extends the range, endurance, payload and flexibility of a receiver aircraft.
To achieve inter-operability and to guarantee smooth operations it’s of the utmost importance that the nations train together in advance and this is why EATC introduced the European Air Refuelling Training programme.
This training offers the crews unique opportunities:
– The tankers are required to perform impressive quick turn-around executions in barely one hour.
– They also perform formation “tanker-to-tanker” refuelling.
– This year they also trained with fighter jets from different nations during exercise Frisian Flag 2019.
The Netherlands, Germany, France and two non EATC member nations, the United States and the United Kingdom, participated, with tankers, crews and mentors. Italy also participated with mentors and the Royal Australian Air Force with observers.
This year’s edition of EART was a perfect example of fostering best practices within the multinational air-to-air refuelling community and five tankers from different nations gathered at Eindhoven Airbase for this unique rendezvous:
– Netherlands KDC-10
– Germany A310 MRTT
– France KC-135FR
– United Kingdom Voyager
– United States of America KC-135R
EART was, as mentioned above, once again pooled with the Dutch Frisian Flag multinational fighter exercise at Leeuwarden Airbase in the Netherlands and during the two weeks of the exercise 60 fighter jets from six nations trained in a limited airspace of only 74,000 square km and were refuelled by the EATC tankers.
The fighter jets from the Netherlands, Germany, USAF, Switzerland, Poland and France flew two waves every day from Leeuwarden to create realistic training scenarios.
EATC is already looking into the future and plans to run EART alongside even larger fighter exercises across Europe and, next year, is looking forward to seeing the Airbus A330 MRTT participate in EART for the first time as the The Royal Netherlands Air Force replaces the KDC-10 in May 2020.
Global Aviation Resource would like to thank Jeroen van Holland and everyone at EATC / EART for their assistance and access.