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NATO nears end of multi-tanker air-to-air refuelling exercise in Canary Islands

26th October 2023 - 10:05 GMT | by The Shephard News Team in London


Touchdown of a French Air and Space Force A330 MRTT at Lanzarote Air Base for refuelling training with jet aircraft. (Photo: Spanish Air Force/NATO)

The 9th European Air Refuelling Training began on October 16 from Gando Air Base in Gran Canaria, Spain, and has involved air tankers from France, Italy and Spain.

The 9th European Air Refuelling Training (EART 23) ends on 27 October after 11 days of trials led by Spanish Air Force at Lanzarote Air Base in the Canary Islands.

EART 23 is run in combination with the Spanish fighter exercise Ocean Sky 23 operating from Gando Air Base in Gran Canaria, Spain. Tanker aircraft, crews and mentors from France, Italy and Spain have been taking part in the annual event.

The exercise underscores interoperability among global tanker and fighter aircraft communities.

French Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Arnaud Viltart, head of European Air Transport Command Training and Exercise Branch, said: ‘EART 23 focuses on dissimilar multi-tanker formation and tanker-to-tanker rendezvous procedures.

‘The 23 edition emphasises High Value Airborne Assets defence through threat reactions and retrograde procedures, and underscores interoperability among global tanker and jet communities.’

Three NATO Allies participate in EART: France with an Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), Italy with a Boeing KC-767A and Spain with an Airbus A400M. The international and multi-aircraft type exercise allows the practice of common air-to-air refuelling tactics, techniques and procedures in a multinational environment.

While the tankers are stationed at Lanzarote Air Base during EART 2023, the base does not have any permanently based military aircraft. It is used by air force troops and an EVA 22 air defence radar which covers the eastern Canary Islands and maritime area up to the Sahara. The military aircraft covering Spain’s Canary Islands are usually stationed at Gando Air Base, Gran Canaria.

Final figures have not been released on this event. During EART 22 around 300 participants executed 30 sorties with three tankers, accumulating more than 95 flying hours and achieving 166 training objectives.

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