One of the driving forces behind Airbus’ A400M military transport program, and of “pool” programs like NATO’s SALIS with Russian AN-124s or its recent SAC C-17 pool, is Europe’s shortage of transport aircraft to support military missions. This shortage will not be fixed any time soon. In the interim, NATO pools are about to be augmented by a more local partnership.
As the Netherlands struggled over proposed defense cuts in 2007, its Ministerie van Defensie signed an agreement with Germany, France and Belgium to create “European Air Transport Command” (EATC) as a coordination pool for their own military transports. The EU EDA also has a parallel program with much wider participation, the European Air Transport fleet (EATF). EATF offers a step short of EADC level integration, while laying the foundation for wider EADC membership in future. They’re farther away than they’d like to be, but probably closer than you think.