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EDA backs evaluation of aerial refueler

Feb. 11, 2013 at 12:27 PM

BRUSSELS, Feb. 11 (UPI) -- The Boeing KC-767 aerial refueling tanker operated by Italy is to undergo a Europe-wide collective air-to-air refueling clearance trial.

The trial is being organized by the European Defense Agency and will be part of the organization's effort to help correct Europe's shortcomings in air-to-air refueling capabilities.

"Mandated by (Europe's) defense ministers in March 2012, EDA is engaged in four work strands to increase the European AAR capability: short-term gap filling, optimization of existing assets and organization, optimization of AAR capacity offered by the future (Airbus Military) A400M fleet as well as the long-term enhancement of Europe's strategic tanker capability," the EDA said.

"As a mean to increase the number of AAR clearances for receivers and thereby more efficiently pool and share European aerial refueling capabilities, EDA together with the Movement Coordination Center Europe and Italy (will) organize a two-week collective AAR clearance campaign on the recently fielded Italian KC-767 aircraft."

AAR clearances are a prerequisite to interoperability in multinational operations.

The agency said its members can only field 42 tankers of 10 different types at present and 40 percent of required clearances are missing.

EDA's AAR effort sets a coordinated approach for full and unlimited clearances instead of the limited, mission-specific clearances now issued.

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