NATO-EU air-to-air refueling conference brings together decision-makers and industry

NATO and the European Union co-organised an air-to-air refueling conference on Thursday (17 October 2019), at EUROCONTROL in Brussels. Air-to-air refueling is a critical capability for NATO, as increasing the ability of Allied planes to fly for longer periods and farther distances has a direct bearing on the Alliance’s ability to defend its citizens and territories.

“Air-to-air refueling is part of the ever-closer cooperation between NATO and the EU, who are working together to increase European capacity in this area,” said Camille Grand, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment. “Together with the Netherlands as the lead nation, the European Defence Agency, and several other Allies and agencies (the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation and the NATO Support and Procurement Agency), NATO has facilitated the procurement of a European multinational fleet of multirole tanker–transport aircraft. Consisting of eight aircraft, the fleet is scheduled for delivery between 2020 and 2024. The planes can be configured for air-to-air refueling, the transport of passengers and cargo, as well as medical evacuation. This is a good example of effective cooperation between NATO and the EU in the delivery of critical capabilities and helps address a well-identified capability shortfall.”

With around 150 participants from more than 20 countries, companies and associations, the conference provided a timely opportunity to coordinate efforts in this important domain. This was the first such air-to-air refueling conference co-organized by NATO and the European Union.