European tankers gain momentum

Intel Report: European tankers gain momentum

Europe’s relative lack of air-to-air refuelling assets has often served to hinder NATO campaigns in the past. Now, as Alan Warnes explains, modernisation plans are starting to bear fruit.

Airbus has been working with the Spanish Air Force test centre and Ejército del Aire receivers to assist with the AAR certification of its A400M. Here, Spanish A400M TK.23-03 ‘31-23’ (c/n 076) of Ala 31 leads the Luftwaffe’s 54+11 (c/n 054) of Lufttransportgeschwader 62. Airbus

European reliance on the US and its 450 or so refuelling tankers was a common theme during Operation Allied Force over the former Yugoslavia in 1999, Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014, and Operation Unified Protector over Libya in 2011. NATO and the European Union (EU) promised to improve matters and since 2014 there have been some serious efforts to acquire more air-to-air refuelling (AAR) capability for European air arms.

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