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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 operationsthe so-called EU battle groupsand 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.

Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS)

On 23 March 2006, the chartering of Ukrainian wide-body, long-range strategic transport aircraft became institutionalised through the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS). The SALIS program started in 2006, and involves Ukraine's Antonov Airlines and Russia's Volga-Dnepr Airlines, the world's largest operators of Antonov An-124 planes. SALIS used the huge Soviet-era Antonov 124-100 transport planes, which can deliver 120 tons of freight over 4,800 kilometers (3,000 miles).

A contract with a private company provides for two Antonov An-124-100s permanently ready in Germany, with the option of chartering another four aircraft within nine days. The SALIS initiative was launched at the Prague NATO summit in November 2002 and contributes to bridging the European capability gap in strategic airlift until the commissioning of the European A400M military transport aircraft. The "Strategic Airlift Interim Solution" (SALIS) supplied logistics to a number of NATO countries through the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA).

Kiev intended to leave the trilateral Ukraine-Russia-NATO Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS) program on the use of An-124 transport planes in the Alliance's interests, the CEO of the Ukrainian aircraft maker Antonov Airlines, Oleksandr Gritsenko, said 07 September 2016. "We will participate [in the program] with the Russian company until December 31, and beginning January 1 we will carry out work to operate independently," Gritsenko told journalists.

Germany would be forced to continue handing lucrative contracts to Russian and Ukrainian firms to transport its military hardware, according to Bundestag MPs. A joint contract with the Russian firm Volga Dnepr and the Ukrainian firm Antonov Design Bureau is due to run out at the end of 2016, and will have to be renewed because Germany does not have its own large-scale military transport planes.

But the contract, would also have to be split in two because Ukraine is now engaged in a war with pro-Russian separatists in its eastern region. Under the new contracts - agreed with ten partners, including Germany, France, Poland and Norway - Antonov planes will be contracted to fly some 1,600 flight hours in 2017, of which 1,080 will be for the German military. This number will sink slightly in 2018, leaving the German state a total bill of 101 million euros ($107 million) over two years.

But the rift between Russia and Ukraine caused a new problem: the Ukrainian company is demanding a lot more money than the Russian counterpart, and according to some MPs on the Bundestag defense committee, the Defense Ministry cannot explain the discrepancy. While the Antonov Design Bureau is to bill the German taxpayer 37,509 euros ($39,872) per flight hour, Volga Dnepr only wants 23,341 euros per flight hour.

It's not unusual for armies to turn to the civilian market for large-scale logistics when it does not require a military element, unless equipment needs to be transported into a war zone. In Germany's case, most military transports will be to and from Afghanistan, where the Bundeswehr is involved in the ongoing war.

Strategic Airlift Capability

Another NATO initiative is the Strategic Airlift Capability program. A letter of intent to commence contract negotiations to multilaterally acquire C-17 Globemasters was signed in September 2006. Apart from 10 NATO member countries (Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, and the United States), participants include Finland and Sweden, both Partnership for Peace nations.

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: 16-12-2016 19:20:53 ZULU