NAM Programme secures Air-to-Air Refuelling training for SAC fleet through a Foreign Military Sales Case

30 September 2015

On 22 September, one of the C-17s of the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) executed an air-to-air refuelling (AAR) mission with a US Air National Guard (ANG) KC-135 tanker aircraft operating from Geilenkirchen Air Base, Germany. Although these missions have been executed before with United States Air Force (USAF) and the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) units, this mission is the first one since the NATO Airlift Management (NAM) Programme Office, an integral part of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), and the United States Government (USG) signed an agreement which describes their cooperation in the field of air-to-air refuelling training.

The signed Foreign Military Sales case provides SAC for the next three years with a guaranteed source of US ANG tanker aircraft to meet the yearly 130 hours training requirement. The agreement will make SAC air-to-air refuelling training and operations more reliable and will reduce planning workload for the personnel of the Heavy Airlift Wing (HAW), the operator of SAC aircraft.

The contract is also a good reflection of the new NATO approach to integration and interoperability cooperation. It defines the combined effort to organize training in a more efficient way by the USAF, US ANG, the HAW and the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force (NAEW&CF). Both E-3As and SAC C-17s are now using the same AAR capacity, increasing efficiency and decreasing costs on both sides.

Ms Gabriella Soos, NAM Officer Mission Support, explained that "the common training between the NAEW Component, the HAW and US ANG gives opportunity to learn and practice NATO standards, airspace usage and air-to-air refuelling procedures and it will help the three military units to maintain their operational readiness requirements". "The air-to-air refuelling training provides a great opportunity for the three unique military units to strengthen cooperation and deepen the relationship", she highlighted.