Bulgaria, who holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU during this semester, hosted the second European Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Courses (ETAP-C) from April 15th to 27th. This two-week comprehensive airlift tactics training course aims to enhance interoperability between European Air Forces. The participating crews were trained within a simulated theatre-deployment setting, exposing them to a complex surface-to-air and air-to-air threat environment, within which they were tasked to conduct demanding airlift missions.
At the end of the course, 3 graduating crews received a certificate reflecting the training objectives achieved.
EDA initiated the European Tactical Airlift Programme (ETAP) to develop innovative, efficient and more effective approaches to overcome Advanced Airlift Tactical Training and Interoperability shortfalls, within the European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) programme.
ETAP aims to enhance European transport airlift operational capability for crisis management operations through the pooling and sharing of experience, training opportunities and organisational costs, and the development of agreed common tactics, techniques and procedures, to better meet the challenges of flying transport aircraft in a joint and combined modern operational environment.
The organisational and administrative responsibilities for the ETAP have recently been handed over to the European Tactical Airlift Centre (ETAC) in Zaragoza, Spain, which was opened in June 2017 in the presence of EU High Representative and Head of the EDA Federica Mogherini, the Spanish Minister of Defence María Dolores de Cospedal and EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq.
This multinational centre, which was established with the support of 10 EDA Member States (Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Portugal and Spain) and one Third State (Norway), delivers European Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Courses (ETAP-C), European Airlift Transport Training (ETAP-T), European Advanced Tactical Instructor Course (ETAP-I), Symposia (ETAP-S) and any other ETAP related activities for military air transport personnel.
The 2018 activities began in January at the International Training Centre (ITC) in Pisa, Italy, with the first three ETAP-I. The first ETAP-C took place in Zaragoza from February 18th until March 3d, with nine crews and six aircraft (2 C-130, 1 C-160, 1 CASA 235 and 2 CASA 295) from Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Spain. This course was divided in two parts, day and night, with some of the crews attending the night course using night-vision goggles.
International interest in ETAC activities is tangible, with observers from Finland, Bulgaria and the Emirates participating in the January course. NATO AWACS observers from Geilenkirchen also attended to investigate the possibility of joining this type of training in the future.