Another Step Forward for the European Air Transport Command: Italy Officially Joins the EATC


12/10/2014 In visits to both Rome and to High Wycombe, the key role which the European Air Transport Command (EATC) is playing in enhancing European capabilities and synergies was highlighted.

In a visit to Rome earlier this year, the Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, Lt. General Preziosa highlighted the role of the command as well as a new European command, the PR Centre.

We are contributing our transport aircraft and new tankers to the EATC”.

Besides Italy is engaged with EAG nations to establish a Personnel Recovery (PR) Centre, based in Italy, in 2015.

This centre is addressing a very important operational function (PR), in order to foster joint-combined interoperability through common approaches and common procedures, under a lead service approach.

I believe those are simple and tangible examples of what is commonly known as pooling & sharing initiatives.

And the visit to High Wycombe recently, highlighted the key role which the European Air Group played in shaping a way ahead in order for the EATC to become operational.

According to the Deputy had of the EAG:

BG De Ponti: The EAG tackles airpower issues, which need solutions to enhance interoperability among the member nations.

This can lead to tactical or strategic solutions.

And we have had important achievements to date such as the European Air Transport Command (EATC).

According to the EATC itself, the role is to enhance synergy and capabilities.

The Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany have put major parts of their air transport- and air to air refueling fleets under the operational control (OPCON) of the EATC.

On 22 November 2012 Luxembourg officially joined the EATC, Spain followed on 03 July 2014, finally Italy on 04 December 2014.

Now the missions of almost 200 aircraft are planned, tasked and controlled out of Eindhoven.

In addition to that the EATC runs a nationally defined level of responsibility for aircrew training, coordination of training and exercise objectives as well as the harmonization of appropriate air transport regulations of the participating nations.

The overall objective is to manage the scarce resource air transport as effectively and efficiently as possible.

And Italy joined officially on December 4, 2014.

According to the Italian Ministry of Defense, Italy will enhance its contribution to European defense and enhance cost effectiveness by joining the EATC.

The Note of Participation ratifies Italy’s accession to the European Air Transport Command (EATC), the military air transport coordination center that, since 2010, has employed aircraft contributed by participating countries to implement, among others, air-to-air refueling and aeromedical evacuation activities.

For the first time the event was broadcast live via streaming from Palazzo Baracchini, seat of the Ministry of Defence.

“Today’s signature is a success of the Italian Presidency of the Council of the European Union: a concrete substantial result  marking Italy’s accession to a flexible structure that allows us to ensure greater security”. Minister Pinotti said today on the occasion of Italy’s signature of EATC’s Note of Participation. 

“Thinking beyond, thinking anew”, the Minister added, “means rethinking our national vision to achieve a broader vision on a European scale”.

The Italian Minister of Defense signs the letter of participation in the EATC. 12/4/14. Credit: Italian MOD
Italy joins officially the EATC. 12/4/14. Credit: Italian MOD

The Note of Participation was signed by Chief of the Italian Air Force, Lt Gen Pasquale Preziosa, EATC Commander, Gen Christian Badia, and military representatives of the project’s six other participating nations: France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg and Spain.

In brief, by joining the European Air Transport Command, Italy will be able to:

– Implement the guidelines of the Council of the European Union during the Italian Presidency;

– Make our national military air transport system more efficient, reducing costs currently incurred for the same activities.

Italy’s accession to the multinational Command is a tangible result that enhances national military air transport capabilities, in particular in our sectors of excellence such as air-to-air refueling and aeromedical evacuation in bio-containment conditions.

These are our blue chips, that we can use to borrow aircraft from other participating nations, ensuring greater operational flexibility and cost reduction by cutting down on outsourcing when suitable national aircraft are not available.

We will therefore have access to oversize air transport capabilities, cut down on outsourcing contracts and meet transport requirements with suitable aircraft, thus significantly improving the cost-effectiveness ratio for the entire sector.

Moreover, operations’ planning support contracts can be optimized, ensuring significant savings starting as soon as 2016.