A Sight on European Defence

In the former times I had heard about the European Air Transport Command (EATC), supposed to put under one single operational authority the military transport fleets of Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. Then nothing happened. But, some days ago, going through the blogs I usually visit, a post, showing an Airbus A400-M flying over Eindhoven, the day the EATC was officially created (here).

The surprise is not to see an A400-M flying, the surprise was the creation of the EATC, which is a concrete and major step towards European Defence, as four countries have decided to leave to a multinational headquarters, already in peacetime, the operations of a critical asset, like their transport fleet. Impressed by this news, I went immediately towards the websites of French, German, Dutch and Belgian Ministries of Defence, in order to get some more details on the issue.

The only two ministries being interested in the issue are the Dutch one (the EATC headquarters is located on their soil) and Germany. France and Belgium had not published anything recent two days after the event.

Then let us have a look at the Dutch press release first. You can access it in Dutch language here. To make it easy, I will explain in my plain (or pidgin) English. Have a look: the Dutch press release states that EATC objective is to develop a common doctrine in operations and doctrine. As well standardization of maintenance belongs to its objectives. Then we get some details on the total number of aircraft, that will be put at disposal of the EATC: 29 Hercules, 135 Transall, 19 Casa 235, 10 Airbus A-310, 2 Airbus A-340, 2 KDC-10, 1 DC-10, 20 liaison and VIP aircraft. The press release ends with the name of the new commander, German major general J. The HQ should comprise 200 people and create about 25 local jobs. More important (at least for the people not living in Eindhoven): Spain and Luxembourg are considering joining the EATC.

Now, let us have a look at the German Press release (here):

-EATC will progressively develop, after a first step dedicated to organize the HQ, keeping in perspective the common goal will be a mutualisation of the assets.

-In order to man the EATC, Germany has disbanded its air transport command on 1st July 2010.

– The press release compares EATC with military “Star Alliance” (or Sky Team, or One World – depending on your preferred airline).

-Some assets (helicopters, airplanes dedicated to national tasks) will not been pooled within the EATC.

-However, fielding of A-400M could lead to multinational wings, like already done with the NATO Awacs fleet, even leading to multinational crews.

-Thanks the optimization of the use of transport aircraft, quite a bunch of money will be saved, mainly when transport fleet will have been standardized with the A-400M.

To come soon: a more thorough analysis of this event, including the various bodies like SALIS, SAC, MCCE.

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