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Europe intends to supply itself on its own (Maj)

(BRUSSELS2) This was one of the major shortcomings noted during Operation Unified Protector in Libya. European aircraft (French, British, Belgian, Danish, Dutch, etc.), whether strike or observation, were only able to accomplish their missions because the Americans provided sufficient refueling resources. A return flight, and passage through the country, requires one or two in-flight refuelings. This gap was not really discovered during Libya; it was already noted and endorsed in several capability planning documents in the European Union. The “Libyan” observation therefore made it possible to accelerate political awareness. And it is now one of the most emblematic projects of European “pooling and sharing”.

Defense ministers must in fact endorse, on March 22, a political declaration which will enable a process to be initiated allowing its presentation on behalf of the Europeans as one of their contributions to the NATO Summit in Chicago. This project has several objectives: short, medium and long term. “ The project starts now; it will be realized as acquisitions are made explained a case expert to B2. But don't expect a miracle right away. “We cannot automatically have multiplied capacities in three to four years. We are rather in a horizon of 2020 ". It is at this point that we can say that the Europeans have a certain autonomy in terms of tanker aircraft.

The project will focus on three points:

1° Increasing refueling capacities – either by purchasing new equipment (as France will do) or acquiring flight hours (as the United Kingdom will do), by pooling existing or future capabilities (as Germany wants to do with the A400M).

2° Training, parking, maintenance.

3° The use of forces. The four countries that already participate in the European transport aviation command center EATC (Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands) will use it.

(Maj) Participating in this project are the six “big” countries: France (leader), Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Sweden, as well as Belgium, Finland , Greece, Hungary, Portugal.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).

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