2018 European Air Refuelling Training
Updated: Feb 23
For the fifth consecutive time the European Air Refuelling Training was organized by the European Air Transport Command at Eindhoven airbase, the Netherlands from 8 until 20 April. Originating from an idea of three 334 squadron pilots of the Royal Netherlands Airforce, EART started five years ago as an air-to-air refuelling training for air and maintenance crews and has grown into a yearly multinational exercise under the supervision of the EATC.
The exercise is traditionally run parallel to the large multinational fighter exercise Frisian Flag at Leeuwarden airbase, so both exercises can realize a maximum training outcome.
For the 2018 edition the participation of five nations was planned involving Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and firstcomer and non EATC member the United States of America.
Before the exercise even had started the Italian airforce had to withdraw its KC-767 tanker for operational reasons. The KC-135 from the USAFE at RAF Mildenhall did arrive, but was unable to participate in the first days as the aircraft had technical problems.
Due to increasing tensions between the coalition forces (USA, UK and France) and Syria, backed by Russia, over a possible nerve gas attack both France and USA withdrew their tankers during the first week. It clearly showed the importance of tanker capacity in an international unstable environment.
The French C-135FR only flew missions on the first day and left right after the afternoon mission back to France. The American KC-135 departed Eindhoven back to the UK on Thursday afternoon, after a provisional repair of the aircraft.
On Thursday 12 April the EATC together with the hosting airbase Eindhoven organized a day for the (inter)national press. The day started with a warm welcome from the Chief of Staff of EATC, the German general Schick, underlining the importance of EATC and the EART exercise.
EATC currently commands 19 air-to-air refuelling assets from five out of the seven participating nations (only Belgium and Luxembourg do not have their own capacity).
To further increase the interoperability recently the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, Belgium and Germany signed a contract to buy eight new A-330 Multi-role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft, which will be based at Eindhoven and Cologne. The aircraft will be Dutch registered and under investigation is the fact if EATC will be responsible for the pooling
of the aircraft.
Several officials held short presentations about the European Defence Agency (EDA), EATC and the EART exercise and its objectives,
New in the 2019 edition of EART will be a split in the training. Part one will, just as previous editions, been run parallel to Frisian Flag in April. Part two will be organized in the Southern part of Europe in October/November. Still unconfirmed but Gando airbase at the Spanish Canary islands has been named to host EART due to the fact that both sides (civil and military) of the airfield could be used.
The final presentation was the briefing for the afternoon flight, by major Martin of 334 squadron, for the two remaining participating tankers; the boom operating Dutch KDC-10 and hose and drogue operating German A-310 MRTT.
In the afternoon a mission was flown in the Shell track, west of the Dutch wadden islands. The KDC-10 received eight Dutch F-16's and the German A-310 MRTT received four German EF-2000 Typhoons and three French Rafales C.
The press was invited on board both airplanes for a ride over the Northsea, a short photoreport can be found here.
Many thanks to the Public Affairs Officers and their teams of EATC and Eindhoven airbase.