Air-to-Air Refuelling Fact Sheet
Educate – Communicate – Cooperate
Global Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) Capability — A Team Effort
AAR is a Force Multiplier
In 2016 NATO & EU leaders signed a Joint Declaration officially mandating greater inter-organisational cooperation. Under strategic guidance to develop ‘coherent, complementary & interoperable defence capabilities’,1 AAR action officers at the strategic levels of both organisation aligned their roadmaps in the following three areas:
- Procuring new assets via the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF);
- Optimising existing capabilities, including purchasing more A400M air refuelling kits;
- Increasing capability by developing procedures for AAR clearances.
Action officers at every level have influenced decision-makers with published works & multinational training events. They have trained more than 250 personnel how to obtain international clearances & plan NATO air refuelling missions. Since 2016 they have combined disparate events into an annual ‘Super Week’. In 2018 they built the first in what is hoped to be a regular program of biannual AAR conferences in Europe. As you can see from the map, increased AAR capability is a global interest. The JAPCC engages with more than 60 nations across the globe. Cooperation by NATO & the EU with nations from the Pacific to the Middle East gives commanders greater flexibility & decreases unnecessary risk.
1. Joint Declaration by the President of the European Council, the President of the European Commission, & the Secretary-General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, https://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_133163.htm, accessed 20 February 2019.
MMF’s A330 to Arrive Mission Ready
While standardization of the Technical Compatibility Assessment (TCA) is well underway, data sharing remains a challenge. Mutual recognition between relevant nationally-accredited authorities can overcome this. The authorities in Australia, the United States & Europe utilized this principle to ensure A-330s delivered as part of Europe’s MMF programme will arrive cleared to conduct international air refuelling on their first mission.
Automated Air-to-Air Refuelling
The future of AAR is unmanned. Decision-makers must consider multi-mission UAS’ impact on future joint air & space operations. In 2018, the US Navy awarded a contract for a carrier-based UAS tanker. To ensure Allied A3R technical & operational standardization, the JAPCC provides expertise to the NATO Military Committee Air Standardization Board through the NATO AAR Working Group as it develops a NATO A3R Standardization Agreement; on track for a 2020 release.
AAR Clearance Training
Reducing Risk in AAR
Commanders & planners minimize AAR risk by verifying assets are technically & operationally approved to make contact. Globally, this is accomplished through bi-lateral clearances which confirm legal & monetary arrangements as well as compatibility of items such as physical connections, training & maintenance. A JAPCC-led team has so far trained 110 planners, operators, staff officers & engineers in the clearance process, increasing AAR safety & capability.