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European Union - Airlift

With the adoption of a common European security strategy, a new headline goal was issued in 2004, reflecting the evolution of the strategic environment. EU Headline Goal 2010 (HG 2010) built on and complemented the previous HHG. It foresees the creation of national and international battle groups for rapid response operations—the so-called EU battle groups—and the enhancement of European lift capacities, including the development of a European airlift command.

The European Air Group (EAG) was been crucial in improving and coordinating existing European airlift capacities. Some European countries had already begun to exchange military airlift capacities on the basis of bilateral memoranda of understanding (MOU) in the 1980s. In the wake of the Franco-German summit of 30 November 1999, the EAG was tasked with a European airlift study to identify better use of the available European airlift means. France and particularly Germany considered this a first step towards a common European airlift command. The European airlift study the EAG conducted resulted in the establishment of the European Airlift Coordination Cell (EACC) at Eindhoven, Holland, in September 2001, which subsequently was transferred into the European Airlift Centre (EAC) on 01 July 2004.

European Air Transport Fleet (EATF)

The European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) is a European framework for enhanced cooperation in military air transport. The EATF aims at reducing European air transport shortfalls by pooling aircraft such as the A400M and C130. Participation can take different forms: making aircraft available; purchasing, providing or exchanging flying hours; or to provide and benefit from shared and/or pooled support functions (training, maintenance, etc.). Milestones have been set with the aim of reaching EATF initial operational capability by the next decade. The European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) initiative aims at developing concrete solutions to increase the efficiency of all existing and future air transport assets made available by the participating Member States for military needs and optimisation of airlift organisations and structures through farreaching coordination.

In February 2008 the European Defence Agency [EDA] Steering Board in Capabilities formation decided to establish a Project Team to study viable models for the development of a European Air Transport Fleet (EATF). In November 2008, Defence Ministers of twelve EU Member States (Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Spain) signed a EATF Declaration of Intent (DoI) to express their determination and commitment to address the critical European airlift shortfalls.

The main objectives of EATF are: to improve the airlift provision within the European Union; to develop concrete solutions for better use of existing and future airlift assets made available by the pMS for military needs to meet operational requirements; to develop means for optimisation of interested existing and future air transport organisations and structures; and, finally, to be able to transport any personnel/equipment by any asset with a minimum of constraints.

EATF will consist of a framework federating different projects identified, different structures and different types of assets, in order to create synergies through far-reaching cooperation and coordination. It will be a flexible and inclusive partnership between national and multinational military air transport fleets and organisations in Europe, aimed at the enhancement of standardised air transport services through cost-effective pooling, sharing, exchange and/or acquisition of various capabilities, including aircraft, training programmes, cross-servicing activities, cargo handling, maintenance activities, spare parts, etc.

The long term vision of the EATF is to establish a robust network linking various European air transport entities aiming at the efficient employment of all present and future air transport capabilities made available by the pMS for military needs, regardless of type or origin.

The signature of the EATF Letter of Intent (LoI) on 17 November 2009 by fourteen Ministers of Defence (Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden) and by the Minister of Defence of Romania a few months later expressed the clear political will to move forward and enhance efforts to increase the military airlift provision within Europe.

The work of the PT EATF is focused on identified and prioritised air transport issues to improve the efficiency of the European air transport, avoiding duplication of effort and sharing outcomes and information with as many entities as possible. Three ad hoc working groups (AHWG) are active under PT EATF working on specific work strands: The AHWG Governance to address the governance and legal issues, the AHWG operations and training tactical air transport looking at improving interoperability between partners and the AHWG Diplomatic Clearances (DIC) to develop a simplified/harmonised mechanism for diplomatic clearances inside and outside the EU.

Participating Member States (pMS) are looking for a flexible and inclusive partnership between national and multinational military air transport fleets and organisations in Europe. This underlines the intended open relationship to be created between partners characterised by mutual cooperation and responsibility to achieve specific goals in the airlift area.

The intent is to establish an EDA Category A program. Guidance and coherence for EATF will be provided by a dedicated governance system. The AHWG Governance has reached a common understanding of the pros and cons of the different governance models for EATF and concluded that this will be achieved through the creation of a Cat A programme with separate Category B projects below to address the different issues. An EATF strategy providing an agreed roadmap towards fulfilling all EATF objectives is also under development by the AHWG Governance. This should help pMS to reach a more clear and practical agreement on the content of EATF.

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Page last modified: 06-12-2021 10:05:50 ZULU