Defence Ministers from ten European states have set themselves the goal of achieving a Multi-Role Tanker Transport capability by 2020, which will significantly enhance their aircraft’s ability to remain airborne for long periods.
The agreement was made at a European Defence Agency meeting on the 19th November, attended by representatives of: Belgium, France, Greece, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, and Spain, who have all agreed to envisage buying or leasing new tanker aircraft together. The initiative, led by the Netherlands, aims to improve European forces’ capacities to: increase overall refuelling capacity; reduce the fragmentation of the fleet; and optimise the use of existing assets.
Air-to-air refuelling (AAR) is an essential enabler for air power projection. For many years, European forces have been largely dependent on American support to enable anything beyond short-range air combat operations due to their lack of refuelling capabilities, as demonstrated in the Kosovo campaign.
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