Under the umbrella of the European Air Transport Fleet Programme (EATF), a tactical airlift training programme was developed to improve interoperability and to offer advance tactical training opportunities with the objective of improving operational capability and availability of crews and aircraft.
Since the programme began in 2011, the number of events has increased steadily, covering both basic and advanced training requirements and offering an increasingly demanding training environment. With this in mind, the European Tactics, Techniques and Procedures (ETTP) were written specifically to form a baseline capability catalogue for collaborative operations and training and have proved to be very effective in converging national procedures into an accepted and harmonised approach. With over 100 crews trained and over 2,000 hours flown during the development phase, the programme has been a resounding success and has resulted in a step change in improved tactical airlift capability and readiness both nationally and for Europe as a whole. Having trained to the same standards, the European military airlift community has steadily improved its interoperability and an overall improvement of the European airlift provision has been achieved.
In 2016, eleven of the EATF nations (BE, BG, CZ, DE, ES, FR, IT, LU, NL, NO, and PT) signed a Technical Arrangement for the formation of the European Tactical Airlift Centre (ETAC) to be effective on 8 June 2017. The new centre was opened by the Spanish Minister of Defence. Mme des Cospedal and the Head of the Agency and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, Mrs Mogherini. The ceremony included a formal handover of responsibility from EDA to the ETAC Commander and the centre will quickly build its capacity over the coming months to achieve IOC in September 2017 and the FOC by September 2019.
Main deliverables of ETAC
The main deliverables have been inherited from the EDA European Air Transport Fleet Programme: European Air Transport Training (EATT), the European Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Courses (EAATTC), the European Air Transport Symposium (EATS) and the European Advanced Tactical Instructor Course (EATIC). With the establishment of the ETAC the main deliverables will be re-named as European Tactical Airlift Projects: EATP-T for EATT, EATP-C for EAATTC, EATP-S for EATS, and EATP-I for EATIC.
- ETAP-T is an annual training event of two weeks duration aimed at developing a comprehensive airlift training opportunity within the European setting. Training activities are based on national training requirements and are designed to optimise multi-threat, advanced serials, which are challenging for the operational crews. Supported by the European Air Transport Command (EATC), the event runs for two weeks, providing training opportunities not only for the crews but also for Intel, Maintenance, Aeromedical Evacuation teams, Combined Air Terminal Operations (CATO) and paratroopers.
- ETAP-C leads air transport crews through a two-week comprehensive airlift tactics training syllabus to enhance interoperability between European Air Forces. The participating crews are trained within a simulated theatre-deployment setting, exposing them to a complex surface-to-air and air-to-air threat environment, within which they are tasked to conduct demanding airlift missions. At the end of each course, graduating crews will be receive a certificate based on the training objectives achieved. The courses are run four times per year in France, Spain (2 courses), and Bulgaria encompassing single-ship, formation, and night courses (including NVG). The amount of courses will increase to satisfy an ever increasing training demand.
- ETAP-S is an annual, two-day forum including presentations and workshops on airlift related issues at the operator level. It places its focus on operational and technical topics and is a major factor in developing future opportunities and gap analysis of the EATF landscape.
- ETAP-I is a one-week course giving selected national instructors expertise on European airlift doctrine, knowledge of different aircraft types and associated missions, capabilities, and harmonisation of training procedures. The resultant Tactical Instructors are then employed to assist the crews participating to the courses during flight preparation and execution of the missions. At the end of each course, tactical instructors will evaluate the crew’s performance against syllabus requirements.