"EATC is the centrepiece for air mobility in Europe. During the coronavirus pandemic, EATC has facilitated the solidarity among the member nations and proven its added-value as an effective and operational tool for the air forces", states French Major-General Laurent Marboeuf, Commander EATC.
During the coronavirus pandemic, EATC has facilitated the solidarity among the member nations
The coronavirus outbreak has shown the importance of having in place a standing multinational command specialised to plan, coordinate and enable missions also related to an unpredictable crisis.
Established in 2010 in Eindhoven, EATC's aim is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the member nations' military air transport efforts. The seven members (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain) pool and share their air mobility assets. At any moment they have access to the complete and diverse EATC multinational fleet of more than 20 types of aircraft.
EATC's business model offers them the flexibility of a conditioned delegation of authority over air assets. Services among the nations are exchanged via the virtual ATARES (Air Transport, Air-to-Air Refuelling and other Exchange of Services) system, involving no money flow.
A main multiplier is vested in its core structure: the operational and functional pillars are consolidated in the structure and closely interact with the policy and support division, all pillars are interacting closely. Thanks to a fully integrated staff of over 200 experts, EATC runs a daily average of 60 missions throughout the world. The operational division plans, tasks and controls 24/7 air missions on behalf of
the member nations. The division's main task is to support worldwide medical evacuations of military personnel, air-to-air refuelling missions, paratrooper and cargo drops, VIP flights and to operational theatres or exercises such as exercise Trident Juncture, NATO's biggest live exercise since the 1980s held in 2018.
The operational division works closely with the functional division which acts as a key enabler to interoperability and fosters the harmonisation of procedures laid down in documents such as EATC's Operational Manual or the A400M cross-exchange for technicians framework document. The functional division also organises specialised multinational training activities such as the European Air Refuelling Training (EART) or the Disabled Aircraft Recovery Training (DART).
The coronavirus pandemic has affected the EATC divisions' work considerably, strengthening their interaction to overcome or work around short term challenges such as the closure of borders, airspace or airports, limitations on cargo loading, additional customs checks or medical constraints. Together, the divisions accepted these challenges, confirming existing procedures, issuing new recommendations, advising the member nations where necessary. This cooperative effort guaranteed sustainable operational missions during the crisis, such as the medical evacuation and relocation of infected patients, the urgent delivery of medical supplies or the repatriation of military personnel and civilians.
"The need to act together and to become interoperable is key" concludes Major-General Laurent Marboeuf, Commander EATC. "EATC has driven air mobility in the past ten years. We will continue to do so, listening to the needs of our member nations and planning for the future."