RAMSTEIN, Germany – French, Italian and Canadian tanker aircraft concluded the European Air Refueling Training 2022 flying air-to-air refueling missions for a fighter force assembled in the region for the Spanish live-fly exercise SIRIO 2022.
The 8th European Air Refueling Training (EART 2022) took place from October 17 to 27 in the Canary Islands, Spain. Led by the European Air Transport Command (EATC) based at Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and hosted by the Spanish Air Force at Lanzarote Air Base, the training is run in combination with the Spanish fighter exercise SIRIO 2022 operating from Gando Air Base in Gran Canaria, Spain.
Crews who work together here may meet during real-world missions e.g. to support Allied missions enabling NATO’s deter and defend operation
The backbone of EART 2022 were the tanker aircraft from France, Italy and Canada who deployed to Lanzarote to refuel Spanish fighter jets from all Spanish Air Force Wings. “The opportunity to practice air-to-air refueling with dissimilar aircraft provides critical skills to both tanker and fighter pilots,” said Italian Air Force Colonel Salvatore Melillo, EART director and head of EATC‘s Functional Division. “EART is an important and fixed building block in the international air-to-air refueling community. Crews who work together here may meet during real-world missions e.g. to support Allied missions enabling NATO’s deter and defend operation and the Air Shielding along the eastern flank of the Alliance,” he added.
A pilot approaching an Italian Air Force KC -767 refueler during EART 2022. The air-to-air refueling process requires precision and experience gained among other during multinational refueling exercises. Photo courtesy Spanish Air Force.
A Royal Canadian Air Force RCAF CC-150T Polaris with a Spanish Eurofighter during EART 2022. Canada joined the European exercise for the first underscoring multinational approach of the event. Photo courtesy Spanish Air Force.
The operator console in the Italian Air Force KC-767 is the heart of air-to-air refueling operations. Operators gather experience working with another nation's aircrew. Photo by Italian Air Force.
A French Air Force A-330 Phenix Multi-Role Tanker Transport taking off from Lanzarote Air Base during EART 2022. A fleet of modern tanker aircraft ensures extended reach of fighter jets during operation. Photo by Italian Air Force.
The 300 participants in EART 2022, executed 30 sorties with three tankers accumulating more than 95 hours flying time and achieving 166 training objectives. The total amount of fuel offload was just under 400 tons. EART 2022 focused on similar and dissimilar “multi-tanker formation” and “tanker-to-tanker” rendezvous procedures. The 2022 edition also emphasized practicing “threat reactions and retrograde” procedures required for tactical scenarios in a multinational environment.
"We can say that EATC has grown in the last decade to being a major air-to-air refueling force provider with large operational options and reinforced operational effectiveness,” said Colonel Melillo. “Our responsibility is clearly to provide our nations with tactically trained and skilled crews and to harmonise procedures in the air and on the ground. Having in this edition also the presence for the first time of Canada, confirms that we are on the right path," he concluded.
Lanzarote Military Airfield has its own permanent Air Force troops, as well as an air defence radar which covers the Eastern Canary Islands and the maritime area up to the Sahara). It has no permanently based military planes. These are stationed at Gando Air Base (Gran Canaria).
Exercise SIRIO is the Spanish Air Force advanced training event, organized yearly and led by the Spanish Air Force Air Combat Command (MACOM). It comprises training of all Air Force capabilities, especially Air Defence, in complex and dynamic scenarios. During the 2022 edition of SIRIO, the exercise geographically focused on the Canary Islands and featured a NATO Evaluation for NATO Response Force units, with a special emphasis on Special Operations Forces elements.