ZARAGOZA --- Head of the EDA, High Representative and Vice-President of the European Commission, Federica Mogherini, and Minister of Defence of Spain, Dolores de Cospedal, today officially opened the European Tactical Airlift Centre (ETAC) in Zaragoza. The opening of ETAC marks a significant step forward in European defence cooperation and joint collaboration with the establishment of a permanent operational base for advanced tactical airlift training.
Today (June 8) Zaragoza officially became the home of the European Air Transport Fleet (EATF) Training Programme in a ceremony marking the transfer of this project from the EDA to Spain. The newly created European Tactical Airlift Centre (ETAC) will serve as the permanent home for this project. Created by EDA in 2011, and signed by 20 participating nations, the EATF partnership aims to increase the EU’s airlift capabilities by addressing shortages and increasing interoperability. A flag handover ceremony between EDA Chief Executive, Jorge Domecq, and the ETAC Commander, Colonel Jose Luis Romero, marked the official project transfer of EATF training activities from the EDA to ETAC.
ETAC: Transfer from EDA to a permanent host nation
The opening of the ETAC represents the largest transfer of a project, created and developed by the EDA, to one of its Member States on a permanent basis. Speaking about what this transfer means, EDA Chief Executive, Jorge Domecq, said:
“This is significant moment for European defence cooperation and the EDA. This new centre is the culmination of 6 years of development in the EDA, I am proud that this project has reached maturity and will be transferred to the leadership of Spain as a new and permanent host nation. ETAC demonstrates exactly how the EDA enables positive defence collaboration and delivers real capability improvement for our Member States.”
ETAC: The new home of European tactical airlift
The establishment of a permanent multinational airlift training centre (ETAC) marks a major step forward in European defence collaboration in the critical capability domain of tactical airlift. 11 nations are the owners of this agreement (BE, BG, CZ, DE, ES, FR, IT, LU, NL, PT and NO) and they will share the burden to plan, organize and execute Advanced Airlift Courses, Training and Symposia in different locations (France, Italy, Bulgaria, Portugal & Sweden) by using a permanent lean command and control structure based at Zaragoza. ETAC will be manned by experts from the different participating nations on a rotational basis. The first composition will be made up from Spanish, Italian, German and French officers, who will be replaced within 3 to 4 years with staff from the remaining signatory nations.
EAATTC 17-3: 11th training course successfully concludes
In parallel to the ETAC opening, the graduating crews of the third European Advanced Airlift Tactics Training Course for 2017 (EAATTC 17-3) were also presented with certificates by members of the visiting delegation. Four crews, representing three Member States (Germany: C160; Poland C130 and Spain: C295 and C130) received their certificates following the completion of the two-week training course. Over 120 personnel were involved including support personnel from Italy, Belgium, the European Air Transport Command (EATC) and JAPCC.
The training provided air transport crews with a focused airlift tactics training syllabus specifically designed to enhance interoperability between European air forces. Nine missions were executed, including very low level tactical flights, fighter engagement and evasive maneuvers from ground-to-air threats all trying to stop the air drops of critical cargo and paratroopers. Each crew flew an average of 20 hours in a particularly demanding environment and completed several successful tactical flights to successfully graduate from the course.
3D-Printing in defence: Successful test deployment of AM facility
EDA’s ground-breaking project, “Additive Manufacturing Feasibility Study & Technology Demonstration”, successfully deployed a 3D-printing lab to Zaragoza for the duration of EAATTC 17-3. The project aims to assess the areas where Additive Manufacturing (3D-printing) can have a positive impact on defence capabilities and to demonstrate the feasibility of on-site critical component manufacture.
On May 31st, the lab was loaded on a Spanish C-130 and successfully completed a 30 minute flight. This test was pivotal to examining the feasibility of the facility to be deployed by air. After landing, the lab and its equipment was inspected and found to have encountered no issues from the airlift.
During the deployment, the AM lab generated a lot of interest from the multinational units involved in EAATTC 17-3. Lab technicians worked closely with EAATTC 17-3 officials in the design and production of different test parts. Through these interactions, the technicians were able to gather ideas to print parts on-site and on-demand. The deployment also underscored the strong interest and potential of AM technologies across all military branches (pilots, maintenance, technicians and logistic support), who were keen to learn how 3D-printing could benefit their area of expertise.
The deployment has been successful in terms of showcasing the technologies and raising awareness of their operational application. Furthermore, the lessons learned from the deployment and test flight of the AM lab will also contribute to shaping the design and requirement of future 3D-printing facilities.
The results of this feasibility demonstration will be presented in September, as part of an exhibition (Exploring Additive Manufacturing impact in Defence capabilities) to high-ranking military staff, to raise awareness on the possible impact of AM in defence.