Air Operations Support

This Branch amalgamates Combat Support (CS) and Combat Service Support (CSS) functions into a single entity that is the JAPCC’s ‘one-stop-shop’ for all functions that enable Air and Space Power projection. Areas of specific focus include, but are not limited to Air Mobility (Air Transport and Air to Air Refuelling), Joint Personnel Recovery (JPR), Joint Rotary Wing Operations, Electronic Warfare (EW), Force Protection (FP) and Logistics.

These activities are fundamental to the effective and resource-efficient delivery of NATO Air and Space Power. Furthermore, AOS must be considered in a holistic manner rather than as individual or discreet functions that are conducted in isolation. AOS is both a Force Enabler and a Force Multiplier. Put simply, it is the bedrock of NATO’s Air Operations.

Branch Head

Joint Air Power Competence Centre

Colonel Erik Rab has been assigned to the JAPCC as the Branch Head Air Operations Support since November 2020. During his previous assignment he was a Senior Policy Advisor at the Directorate-General of Policy at the Ministry of Defence in The Hague. Col Rab was commissioned by the RNLAF Officer Training School in 1989. He has served as an operational pilot, tactical instructor pilot, flight supervisor, flight safety officer, staff officer, director of operations, and squadron commander. Col Rab is a command pilot with more than 2.500 flying hours on the F-16AM, F-16A, T-38 and T-37. His last operational assignment was the Commander of 322 Fighter Squadron at Leeuwarden Air Base. Following his operational career Col Rab transitioned to the USA to become the Assistant National Deputy for the Netherlands at the F-35 Joint Program Office in Arlington Virginia. When he returned to The Netherlands transitioned to the Directorate of Operations, Royal Netherlands Air Force Command in Breda to become the Head of the Fighter Operations Branch.

Information provided is current as of March 2022

Featured Publications

The Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet Programme

Relevant for NATO-EU Military Air Transport?
‘Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.’ Franklin D. Roosevelt During [...]

Aeromedical Evacuation in NATO

Where is the Alliance?
According to the NATO terminology database, Aeromedical Evacuation (AE) is the movement of patients under medical supervision by air transport to and between Medical Treatment Facilities (MTFs) as an integral part of the treatment continuum. In [...]

NATO Force Protection on a Knife Edge

A Think-Piece
Like previous Force Protection (FP) pieces published by the JAPCC, this work is designed to be a ‘Think-Piece’. Its purpose is to provoke debate with the deliberate intention of engaging and challenging colleagues in that [...]

Subject Matter Experts


Tommaso Barone

Subject Matter Expert 
Joint Personnel Recovery, Joint Rotary Wing

Lieutenant Commander Tommaso Barone joined the Italian Navy in 1997. He was trained by the US Navy and qualified as Naval Aviator in 2003. He participated in all major operations including ‘Active Endeavour’, ‘Leonte’, ‘Atalanta’ and ‘Isaf’. In 2010 he deployed on ITS CVH ‘Cavour’ for the Operation ‘White Crane’...


Massimo Di Milia

Subject Matter Expert 
Air Transport

Major Di Milia Massimo Di Milia joined the Italian AF in 2004. He was trained by the USAF and qualified as Military Pilot in 2009. Flying cargo and airlift missions on C-130’s throughout his operational career, he obtained all combat qualifications including assault landing, NVGs, cargo and parachute drops, either...

Lieutenant Colonel

Isaiah Oppelaar

Subject Matter Expert 
Air-to-Air Refueling

Lieutenant Colonel Isaiah L. Oppelaar is the Air Mobility Strategist, Joint Air Power Competence Centre (NATO), in Kalkar, Germany. In this role, he executes the JAPCC Program of Work for air mobility including leading the Global Air to Air Refuelling interoperability and compatibility efforts, supporting AIRCOM’s Specialized Heavy Air Refuelling...

Wing Commander (ret.)

Jez Parkinson

Subject Matter Expert 
Force Protection

Wing Commander (ret.) Jez Parkinson is a RAF Regiment Officer with 33-years’ regular Service; over half in the Multinational environment and in excess of 7-years on operations. He continues to work as a Reservist in the Force Protection Environment and as a civilian on Asset Protection collaborating with the military,...


Eelco Tolsma

Subject Matter Expert 
Joint Personnel Recovery, Joint Rotary Wing

Major Eelco S.Tolsma joined the Royal Netherlands Air Force in 1987 to become a helicopter pilot. After earning his wings he started his flying career at 300 squadron at Deelen AB which he soon left to join 303 Search and Rescue Squadron at Leeuwarden AB in the northern part of...

Lieutenant Colonel

Frans van de Weerd

Subject Matter Expert 

Lieutenant Colonel Van de Weerd has served for more than 40 years in the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF). He served in various fighter related weapon system support positions at depots and staff positions at the RNLAF Headquarters and the Defense Material Command. He dealt with Foreign Military Sales challenges...


Contact Us

Contact Information

Joint Air Power Competence Centre
Römerstrasse 140
47546 Kalkar

+49 (0) 2824 90 2201

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