The European Defence Agency (EDA) has entered the second phase of its strategy to address the airlift shortfall in the European Union.
The European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) programme was initiated by 20 participating nations in 2011. It envisions development of cost-effective solutions to optimise the use of existing and future national fleets of military transport aircraft across Europe.
Participants agreed to a three-phase strategy to achieve the objective. Those countries involved include Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, and Germany, as well as Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, and Malta.
Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Spain, are also part of the programme, as are Sweden, the Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Ireland, and the UK.
EDA airlift and air-to-air refuelling project manager Laurent Donnet said: "The first phase of the EATF strategy, which ran from 2012 to 2014, has now effectively come to an end.
"This allowed us to lay out the partnership’s foundations with a number of tangible deliverables and activities, such as the harmonisation of diplomatic clearances mechanisms and procedures, but also live exercises and training events."
"European airlift is being trained like never before and interoperability between member states keeps growing."
The successful first phase gathered more and more participants through the European Air Transport Training (EATT) events organised in Europe, and 14 aircraft along with 30 crews are expected to join the next edition in June 2015.
Additionally, three editions of the European advanced airlift tactics training course (EAATTC) will take place this year, alongside three European air transport instructor courses and the annual European Air Transport Symposium.
EATF phase II is expected to run for three years. It will see a strengthening of activities through several initiatives, such as the development of a permanent multinational training centre in Zaragoza, Spain, which is anticipated to reach its initial operational capability by mid-2016.
In parallel, harmonisation of rules, regulations, tactics, techniques, and procedures will continue. This is apart from validation of user groups developed around aircraft such as the A400M, A330 MRTT, CN295 or KC-390 based on a model currently being tested with the European C-27J Spartan community.
Meanwhile, the third EATF phase would run from 2017 to 2021, seeking deeper cooperation between participating nations with regards to new capabilities, as well as increased support for the creation and implementation of innovative and tangible solutions.
Image: the European Air Transport Fleet partnership aims to address the airlift shortfall in the European Union. Photo: courtesy of © 2005-2014 European Defence Agency.