The European Air Transport Command (EATC) has commenced the fifth European air-to-air refuelling training exercise (EART 2018) at the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s Eindhoven Air Base.
The EART is an annual exercise designed to train aircrew and engineers to plan and execute complex AAR operations in a multinational and realistic composite air operation (COMAO) environment.
The exercise also focuses on facilitating the certification processes between tankers and receiver aircraft, with the overall aim of improving effectiveness and interoperability of forces.
The two-week long EART 2018 involves the participation of tankers from Germany, the Netherlands, France, and the US. It will end on 20 April.
The US is the first non-European country to participate in the air-to-air refuelling (AAR) training exercise.
The AAR is a significant force enabler and multiplier as it helps improve combat effectiveness by extending the range, payload, and endurance of receiver aircraft.
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Royal Netherlands Air Force Eindhoven Air Base Operations head lieutenant colonel Harry Oostema said: “AAR capacity is the backbone of modern day air power. Without it, we don’t do much. Air power continuously needs fuel.”
The refuelling process enables air power to be projected at greater distances or concentrated where and when it is mostly required.
According to Oostema, providing a guaranteed, continuous coverage of AAR capacity is challenging.
Oostema added: “That’s why we need to train together. The EART at Eindhoven Air Base provides us with that unique opportunity.
“For two weeks, Eindhoven air base will be the tanker town of Europe.”
In 2014, the EART concept was introduced under the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) AAR initiative and is operated by the EATC from Eindhoven Air Base.
This year’s exercise is supported by the Netherlands as the host nation, the Eindhoven-based Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) and EDA.