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BRUSSELS — The Spanish Air Force will host a European Air Transport Training event (EATT2012) involving six European Defence Agency (EDA) member states in Zaragoza, Spain, from June 4 to 15.
“Six of the EDA’s member states will be taking part: Belgium (one C-130 with two crews); the Czech Republic (one CASA-295 with two crews); France (one C-130 with two crews); Germany (two C-160s with two crews); the Netherlands (one C-130 with two crews); and Spain (one C-130 and one CASA-295 with four crews),” said the European Defence Agency in a press release May 31.
The course has been organized by the EDA with the support of European Air Transport Command and is part of the EDA’s ongoing pooling and sharing initiative, through which member states cooperate to increase defense capabilities and save money.
Daniel Keohane, a senior researcher and head of strategic affairs based in Brussels working for the Spanish think tank FRIDE, said the training exercise “links in with the EDA’s air-to-air refueling project.”
“The training exercise is part of the same drive by the EDA to establish itself in the area of air power cooperation between EU member states,” he said. So far, he added, the EDA has gone after “low-hanging fruit, such as in the areas of medical equipment and IEDs,” but this “is a much bigger-ticket item.”
He also referred to the air power shortfalls seen in the Libya operation and noted that “most operations need air capacity of some kind”.
The EDA said that the event will allow crews to train and qualify together in specific airlift disciplines, consolidating their skills in advanced mission planning; cargo and personnel airdrops; tactical navigation with training of trainers and threat reactions; tactical air-land operations, including tactical recoveries, substandard field operations (assault landings), engines running on and offloads and combat offloads; short field landings; formation flying; and night operations.
“The main value of such a training course is to effectively fly the techniques, tactics and procedures that were developed and to get used to flying together. There is no substitute for being airborne. Nothing will beat that, even if you have the best and most advanced flight simulator in the world,” said EDA Assistant Manager Laurent Donnet.
Looking ahead, an EDA Ad Hoc Working Group on Tactical Air Transport involving 19 EDA member states and Norway is organizing a second EATT in 2013. The plan is “to establish a permanent European Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Course (EAATTC) in 2014, modeled on the U.S. course that has operated with great success since 1984,” said the EDA in its press release.
The EDA is also looking to develop an air crew military licensing system across Europe, using analysis of basic helicopter flying training that the agency has already delivered as a starting point. In addition, two multinational helicopter live flying exercises are due to take place in Portugal in July and Belgium in September, involving 10 EDA member states and over 60 helicopters.