EART 2019


This year the sixth European Air Refuelling Training (EART) was organized from 31 March until 12 April hosted by The Netherlands and led by EATC. Low Approach attended the media day of this exercise and received a look behind the whole organisation of this two week long training exercise.

First some information about the EATC with headquarter at Eindhoven in the Netherlands. The EATC is an agreement at the moment with 7 nations with the common intent of sharing air mobility. In 1999-2000 Germany and France took the initiative for working out the organisation. In September 2010 the EATC Inauguration took place with Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. In November 2012 Luxembourg entered the EATC followed in July 2014 by Spain and in December 2014 by Italy. The EATC have four main missions, these consist out of: strategic & tactical airlift, parachute & cargo dropping, air-to-air refuelling and aeromedical evacuation. The EATC has the availability of 170 assets of the 7 nations when needed and when they are not in use by the nations during military operations.


An overview:


Germany: C-160 Transall, Airbus A400M, Airbus A310MRTT

France: Casa CN-235, Airbus A400M, C-130 (J) Hercules, Airbus A310, Airbus A330, C-160 Transall, Airbus A340

Belgium: Airbus A321, C-130 Hercules, Embraer 135/145

Netherlands: KDC10, C-130 Hercules


Luxembourg: Contracted Assets


Italy: C27J Spartan, C-130J Hercules, Boeing KC-767A

Spain: KC-130 Hercules, Airbus A400M, Casa C-295

Our main mission was, like already told, the EART exercise. EART is an AAR focused training for air and maintenance crews to become familiar with all sort of scenarios. EART 2019 was organized in combination with the Frisian Flag fighter exercise that took place from Leeuwarden Air Base in the north of The Netherlands. Today EATC commands 20 air-to-air refueling assets from five countries: France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and Italy. The future is looking good for the EATC because also other countries will join with the delivery of the Airbus A330MRTT in the coming years. 

At EART 2019 five countries participated:


Royal Netherlands Air Force KDC-10 • Eindhoven Airbase BOOM

German Air Force A-310 MRTT • Koln-Bonn DROGUE

United States Air Force KC-135 • Mildenhall BOOM/BDA,DROGUE

French Air Force KC-135FR • Istres AFB BOOM/BDA, DROGUE

Royal Air Force A-330 MRTT • Brize Norton DROGUE


Expanding this year’s EART, the Royal Australian Air Force sent observers, with the hope that they will participate with aircraft in the next edition of EART in 2020.

At the media day the commander of Eindhoven Air Base Colonel Boekholt, the EATC Deputy Commander Brigadier General Agresti and the director from EART 2019 Colonel Massucci welcomed us on this exercise and we received some extra information about the exercise. As part of the media day a flight was offered to our member Dirk to witness the air-to-air refuelling over the North-Sea in a air-to-air refuelling track near Denmark named SHELL. After the briefings and explanations we followed the boarding procedures and took our transfer bus to our tanker of this media flight.


The flight that Dirk was assigned to was the German A310MRTT with callsign COBO43. After we entered our track it was already known that the weather forecast was far from ideal. We had some 50 shades of grey and no sun. This all resulted that only two German Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon EF-2000’s from the Taktische Luftwaffengeschwader 31 „Boelcke“ (TLG31) came by to get some fuel. Due to the weather this was not the most ideal scenario to show us the procedure, but they did it with style. It was a unique sight to see this from so nearby.


The first week of EART focuses on basic training, the second much more complex training exercises has been done such as: Tanker-cell formation training, tanker-to-tanker RV procedures using LINK-16 communications, multi-national tanker training in an COMAO setup.

Low Approach wants to thank the PAO from the EATC and the German Air Force for the seat in their Airbus.


Tekst: Dirk Geuns

Photography: Dirk Geuns, Laurent Heyligen, Ludo Kloek