MCCE support to Arctic Challenge 2017

Exercise Arctic Challenge 2017 started on 22 May 2017 and will last until 2 June 2017. Rotating every second year between the three northernmost air bases in the Nordic countries, Bodø (Norway), Luleå (Sweden) and Rovaniemi (Finland), the Arctic Challenge 2017 is led by the Finnish Air Force that is responsible for planning and direction of the training events.

Arctic Challenge is a multinational training exercise to strengthen our partnerships with other militaries in the region. The purpose of the exercise is to practice mobilizing; evaluate aircraft, personnel and fighter capabilities; and train in multinational operations. This exercise is an opportunity to train with our NATO allies and European partners in a realistic environment. The scenarios involve notional, simulated events, as well as combined flying operations between the countries.

Additional to the three Nordic nations, aircraft and military personnel from Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States will participate. 1,000 people are directly participating in the training with an additional 2,500 support personnel. This year’s exercise will see even more planes than during Arctic Challenge 2015 when nearly 100 aircraft took part. Fighter jets, transport aircraft, tankers, helicopters and aircraft for electronic warfare are all set for take-off over the 10 day exercise period.

Arctic Challenge provides an opportunity to train the large-scale planning and conducting of air operations in a real-like operating environment that involves a wide range of aircraft and forces of modern air warfare. An AAR planner from the MCCE AAR Cell is involved with and responsible for all the tasking and coordination of air-to-air refuelling with 7 tankers from 6 different countries. (CAN CC-130TT, DEU A-310 MRTT, GBR A-330 Voyager, NLD KDC-10, SWE C-130 and USA KC-135) The MCCE AAR Cell also coordinated Air-to-Air refuelling support during the deployment and redeployment of BEL F-16s provided by a Dutch and a French tanker.
The Norwegian Air Operations Centre (NAOC) which is part of the Norwegian Joint Headquarters (NJHQ) in Reitan, has command and control over the operational air assets in a fictitious scenario. All three air bases from where the aircraft will operate, Rovaniemi, Luleå and Bodø are the northernmost bases for fighter jets in the three Nordic countries. The aim is to exercise and train units to plan and conduct complex air operations in close relation to NATO partners. The unique cross-border air space makes ACE a one of a kind training ground for increasing interoperability and skills in all parts of the chain. There are no other places in Western Europe where fighter jets can train over such large areas.

The MCCE AAR Cell has been involved already from the beginning in AAR certification projects to improve the current situation in close relation with the European Defence Agency (EDA), the Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC) and NATO. In early 2017, the JAPCC organised the NATO Air-to-Air Refuelling Clearance Request/Approval course, a two-day course for Testing, Tasking and Approval Personnel conducted at the European Air Transport Command (EATC) on Eindhoven Airbase. Out of the twelve different types of tankers in the European inventory more than 40% of the required clearances are currently not in place. The MCCE is supporting the AAR Clearance process for its member nations by promoting a common mind-set and a collective approach in order to improve interoperability within the AAR domain. Partly due to the MCCE effort, 5 out of the 18 different missing AAR clearances were solved or temporarily solved for Arctic Challenge since the NATO Air-to-Air Refuelling Clearance Request/Approval Training course.

A Swiss F/A 18 refuelled for the first time by a Swedish C-130 tanker

 A Swiss F/A 18 refuelled for the first time by a Swedish C-130 tanker.

MCCE support to Frisian Flag and European Air-to-Air Refueling Training (EART)

From 26 March to 07 April 2017, Leeuwarden Airbase again hosted one of the largest international fighter pilot exercises: Exercise Frisian Flag 2017. For two weeks, 48 fighter aircraft from various countries were exercising the execution of offensive and defensive missions, with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System, Electronic Warfare airplane, and Air to Air refueling tankers.

Air Refueling (AR) was recognised in 2012 as a capability shortfall in Europe. To address this, the European Defence Agency has developed a European AR initiative looking at the three following objectives: increase the overall AR capacity, reduce fragmentation of the fleet, and optimise the use of assets. Within the framework of the EDA’s initiative, the European Airlift Transport Command took the lead regarding AAR training and together with Eindhoven airbase and the MCCE, conducted the first EART in 2014.

The overall objective of EART17 is to address the lack of interoperability amongst EU tanker crews and increase AAR planning and tasking knowledge in a multinational environment by organizing a dedicated AAR exercise in support of the Ex Frisian Flag 2017 fighter exercise.

EART is a great example of close coordination in the AAR domain between European Air Transport Command (EATC), European Defence Agency (EDA), Eindhoven Airbase, Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) and 334 KDC-10 Squadron by training together in a effective multinational environment with increased effectiveness and interoperability.

EART17 delivered AAR training over a two-week period, offering participants a unique opportunity to plan and execute missions within a multinational framework. EART was developed on an increasing complexity basis, starting from single ship missions and evolving to being part of COMAO missions within Ex Frisian Flag 2017. During EART16 the following 4 tankers will support Ex Frisian Flag: a Dutch KDC-10, a French C-135FR, a German A-310 and an Italian KC-767.

Like in 2015 and 2016, MCCE AAR Cell is supporting EART17 with providing an AAR Supervisor to Frisian Flag responsible for all AAR tasking during the exercise to be supported by tankers located at Eindhoven Airbase to maximize the use of the different EART Tankers within the scenarios performed.

A special Search and Rescue scenario was executed with a simulated bailout. In this Combat Search and Rescue scenario techniques and procedures are trained in order to be prepared for future operations & exercises. The Air Operations Control Station Nieuw Milligen (AOCS NM) coordinated with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Den Helder. One of the tankers acted like an Airborne Mission Commander and On Scene Commander. The “downed pilot” was extracted by a NH-90 helicopter.

The AAR Supervisor has also given “hands on” training to 5 graduates of the NATO Specialized Heavy Air Refuelling Course (SHARC) within the AAR Cell at Frisian Flag, which can be considered as a logical post SHARC action as it reduces skill fade and prepares graduates for “real world” operations.

Additionally, the MCCE AAR Cell coordinated on route AAR on the deployment and redeployment of 5 Portuguese F-16s. In total around 48 tanker missions have been conducted to refuel 319 fighters with 1,35 million pounds of fuel.

MCCE support to the NATO Air-to-Air Refueling Clearance Request/Approval Training

After Operation Unified Protector, NATO recognised the lack of clearances as one of the major lessons identified that needed to be solved to benefit interoperability between Nations involved in future combined operations.

The MCCE AAR Cell has been involved already from the beginning in AAR certification projects to improve the current situation in close relation with the European Defence Agency (EDA), the Joint Air Power Competence Centre (JAPCC) and NATO. The EDA, Italy and the MCCE have jointly organised the first collective European air-to-air refuelling (AAR) clearance trial on the Italian KC-767.

Italy’s AAR clearance initiative supported by the MCCE is a cost efficient way to quickly close an important capability gap regarding tanker-receiver certification; given the urgency based on lessons learned from recent operations.

The JAPCC will organise the NATO Air-to-Air Refueling Clearance Request/Approval Training 23-25 January 2017. This is a two-day Course for Testing, Tasking and Approval Personnel conducted at the European Air Transport Command (EATC) at Airbase Eindhoven.

The challenges presented by limited clearances is compounded by a lack of knowledge of what is involved in gaining a clearance, or even how to begin the process. As more, new aircraft enter Alliance inventories, this lack of knowledge will further hindering operations; the JAPCC seeks to redress this balance. The JAPCC is seeking to empower the Nations so that they can gain more AAR clearances. It intends to do this by providing both education in the process and creating a vehicle to connect the personnel involved.

The training will be led by the JAPCC and supported by the MCCE, NATO Headquarters International Staff Defence Investment and the EDA. The MCCE will also contribute an AAR instructor.

The Airbus A-330 MRTT and the Boeing KC-46A/KC-767 are the next generation Multi Role Tanker Transport Aircraft to deliver military strategic air transport and air-to-air refuelling capabilities.

MCCE support to EART/Frisian Flag 2016

frysianflag1

From 10 to 22 April 2016, Leeuwarden Airbase again hosted one of the largest international fighter pilot exercises: Exercise Frisian Flag 2016. For two weeks, 44 fighter aircraft from various countries were exercising the execution of offensive and defensive missions, with the support of Airborne Warning And Control System, Electronic Warfare airplane, and Air to air refuelling tankers.

Air Refuelling (AR) was recognised in 2012 as a capability shortfall in Europe. To address this, the European Defence Agency has developed a European AR initiative looking at the three following objectives: increase the overall AR capacity, reduce fragmentation of the fleet, and optimise the use of assets. Within the framework of the EDA’s initiative, the European Airlift Transport Command took the lead regarding AAR training and together with Eindhoven airbase and the MCCE, conducted the first EART in 2014.

The overall objective of EART16 is to address the lack of interoperability amongst EU tanker crews and increase AAR planning and tasking knowledge in a multinational environment by organizing a dedicated AAR exercise in support of the Ex Frisian Flag 2016 fighter exercise.

EART16 delivered AAR training over a two-week period, offering participants a unique opportunity to plan and execute missions within a multinational framework. EART16 was developed on an increasing complexity basis, starting from single ship missions and evolving to being part of COMAO missions within Ex Frisian Flag 2016. During EART16 the following 4 tankers will support Ex Frisian Flag: a Dutch KDC-10, a French C-135FR, a German A-310 and an Italian KC-767.frysianflag2

Like in 2015, MCCE AAR Cell is supporting EART16 with providing an AAR Supervisor to Frisian Flag responsible for all AAR tasking during the exercise to be supported by tankers located at Eindhoven Airbase to maximize the use of the different EART Tankers within the scenarios performed.

The AAR Supervisor has also given “hands on” training to 4 graduates of the NATO Specialized Heavy Air Refueling Course (SHARC) within the AARC at Ex Frisian Flag, which can be considered as a logical post SHARC action as it reduces skill fade and prepares graduates for “real world” operations. In total 3 MCCE AAR planners has attended Ex Frisian Flag 2016.

Additionally, the MCCE AAR Cell coordinated AAR training between the ITA KC-767 and FRA E3F in French airspace. In total around 40 tanker missions have been conducted.

Air-to-Air Refueling activity within MCCE

COORDINATING THE SHARE USE OF MULTINATIONAL STRATEGIC LIFT AND AIR TO AIR REFUELING ASSETS

MCCE_AAR1 Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) is accomplished in order to provide a rapid response, an increase in range and extend the Airborne Operations (in time and/or range) for a wide variety of Military Assets.Planning and carrying out those missions are a time and money consuming business. Based on these facts, the MCCE AAR cell was created in an effort to optimize the employment of existing and future assets of the participating nations in order to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their capabilities. The AAR Cell’s role is to coordinate between MCCE member nations in order to fulfill different requests of support in accomplishing routine AAR training, taking part in major exercises and/or long range deployment operations.

The planning and scheduling of such a limited amount of tanker resources available inside a very much congested European Airspace is also a major concern for the Movement Coor- dination Centre Europe (MCCE) AAR Cell. Therefore the AAR Cell has also been involved in improving Air Space Management (ASM). A dedicated Air Space Management Officer inside the AAR Cell is working for this matter in order to improve ASM within the various Single European Sky (SES) initiatives coordinated by EUROCONTROL and other EU agencies involved.

In an age of crisis and budgetary constraints, it is essential for European Countries to seek integration, interoperability and cooperation in order to maximize synergies, thereby redu- cing unessential costs. The AAR shortfall in Europe has been recognized especially during real operations (as demonstrated during Operation Unified Protector), and occasionally the shortfall affects national training requirements. The political level of ambition for European Countries to conduct real and sustained air operations in the European Area of interest/Influence, where power projection and massive usage of AAR missions are indispensable, might not be achievable, due to the shortage of AAR assets.

For this reason, the EDA (European Defense Agency) has promoted several initiatives both for the long and short term in order to minimize the AAR shortfall in the coming years, divided into 4 main pillars.

MCCE_AAR2Pillar 1: Short term solution (led by EDA) is focused on AAR service, based on commercial AAR services (CAARS).
Pillar 2: Short-medium term solution is focused on optimization of existing assets and organizations:
Pillar 2a (led by EATC) deals with harmonization of current AAR procedures to efficiently and effectively employ existing and future MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) assets;
Pillar 2b (led by MCCE, EDA and IT) deals with the certifica- tion issue between new tankers and fighters which pre- cludes, presently, AAR multi-national activity;
Pillar 2c (led by UK) deals with GBR offer of Spare Voyager AAR Capacity;
Pillar 2d (led by EDA and MCCE) deals with DIC TA for the AAR missions flown all over Europe;
Pillar 3: Medium term solution (led by EDA) is focused on A400M AAR services through the acquisition of AAR pods and kits

Pillar 4
: Long term solution (led by NLD) is focused on the com- mon acquisition and operation of a new strategic tanker.

MCCE_AAR3The MCCE/EDA Pillar 2a is related to Certification of Tankers and Receivers. The AAR cell recognizes the lack of certifi- cation of new European tankers (such as GBR voyager, ITA KC767, DEU A310MRTT) against several European tactical fighters as the main limiting factor for interoperability and integration. As more than 180 bi-lateral clearances are still missing in Europe, the AAR cell is proposing a more coordinated procedure which, respecting national procedures, would allow European nations to save time and money for preparing paperwork and the related flight testing in or- der to certify receiver assets and Tankers.

Flight testing will be coordinated by the AAR cell through ATARES multi-national sorties. Proposed procedure will be tested through the certification of ITA KC 767 against several receiver platforms during the year 2013.

In line with this project MCCE AAR Cell is also coordi- nating the test flight between the nations which are done on a bilate- ral agreement basis.

In February 2013, following a political decision to deploy the German A310 to Senegal to support the French fighter aircraft for AFISMA (African-led International Support Mission to Mali), an urgent AAR clearances process was required. Within a short notice, a test flight campaign has been coordinated from MCCE AAR cell in order for French fighters RAFALE, MIRAGE 2000 and the MIRAGE F1 to obtain AAR clearance against German A310. In more details, after the ground tests performed on the 19th February 2013 in MONT-DE-MARSAN Airbase at the Air Force Operational Evaluation Center (CEAM in France) to check the technical compatibility between the different assets involved, MCCE AAR Cell has successfully coordinated the last part of the certification process of French receivers against German A310 MRTT.

MCCE_AAR5
In particular, last 20th and 26th February 2013 the AAR Cell has provided support and expertise in order to coordinate French and German assets, maximi- zing synergies and minimizing flying-time required in order to ful- fill test flights required for the certification.

The first mission was fully dedicated to the RAFALE on SIMONE Refueling Area and the second one on CECILE Area in order to support RAFALE, MIRAGE 2000 and MIRAGE F1. The two-day flying test activity, successfully coordinated by AAR cell of MCCE allowed all Receivers to achieve bi-lateral full clearance.

AAR in European Defence News

MCCE-EDA2Pan-European air-to-air refuelling clearance trials underway
The EDA, Italy and the Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) havejointly organised the first collective European air-to-air refuelling (AAR) clearance trial on the Italian KC-767. Starting on 5 September, aircraft from France (one Mirage 2000, one Rafale) and Sweden (three Gripens) participated in the campaign to obtain technical and operational AAR clearances for the Italian strategic airlift tanker. AAR is a critical European capability gap and one of the eleven Pooling & Sharing priorities of the EDA. Mandated by EU Defence Ministers in March 2012, EDA is engaged in four work strands in this domain: short-term gap filling; optimisation of existing assets; optimisation of AAR capacity offered by the future A400M fleet and enhancement of Europe’s strategic tanker capability by creating amultinational Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT)capability.

“Italy’s AAR clearance initiative is a cost efficient way to quickly close an important capability gap regarding tanker-receiver certification; given the urgency based on lessons learned from recent operations, we would have welcomed more nations to participate in the clearance campaign”, said Claude-France Arnould, EDA Executive Director. Technical and operational clearances are mandatory to provide or receive fuel and they are thus a prerequisite to interoperability in multinational operations. Taking place in Italy at Decimomannu airbase from 5 to 12 September, France and Sweden were able to perform the necessary ground and in-flight tests to obtain missing AAR clearances.
MCCE-EDA1

Today Europe can deploy 42 tanker aircraft of twelve different types for which more than 40% of required clearances are missing.While for critical requirements and war-time operations clearances limited to a specific operation can be issued on a case by case basis, this campaign allows for a coordinated approach for full and unrestricted clearances. This increases the flexibility of AAR operations and facilitates immediate deployment of assets in future.

Source European Defence Matters Issue 04 2013 (a magazine of the European Defence Agency)