Strategic lift shortfall and the need for coordination
At the beginning of this century, NATO and the EU identified a lack of assured strategic lift capacity and a lack of coordination of strategic lift assets. The European Air Group (EAG) studied this field and published the European Airlift Study which proposed more intense coordination and a cashless exchange system for air transport services. Willing nations worked together to resolve these shortfalls and established ATARES (Air Transport & Air-to-Air Refuelling and other Exchange of Services) as the exchange system. To improve coordination, willing nations established multinational coordination centres like the European Airlift Centre (EAC) and the Sealift Coordination Centre (SCC), which merged into the Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) in July 2007. Some nations wanted to cooperate even more intensely and transferred their personnel from the EAC towards the EATC implemen¬tation team, which transferred the EATC concept into reality and the EATC was inaugurated three years later. The MCCE is stationed at Eindhoven Air Base - right next to the EATC.
ATARES (Air Transport & Air-to-Air Refuelling and other Exchange of Services) is an arrangement between nations to provide a multinational framework to facilitate mutual support through the exchange of services in the realm of air force activity.
The exchange of services is based on the Equivalent Flying Hour (EFH) of the nationally owned reference asset type. The reference is the cost price of one C-130/C-160 flying hour (EFH=1). Other nationally owned aircraft types are counted against the C-130/C-160 reference. The smart approach of ATARES is, that it is not based on bilateral reciprocity but on the fact that a participating nation is supposed to deliver to the ATARES community as many EFH as it receives. So ATARES offers the possibility for the Dutch KDC-10 to fly for France and in return France offers one of their C-160 to the Belgians while the Belgian Embraer flies the Dutch CHOD to his next meeting…
One of the objectives of the EATC is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of the participants’ military Air Transport efforts. ATARES enables a proficient selection of the best available and most suitable asset type (done in the Operational Division of the EATC). This leads to less outsourcing, less empty space and additional training opportunities.
In 2014, the EATC was able to organize the transport of 278.000 passengers and 18.400 tons of cargo while exchanging 3900 EFH between the EATC Participating Nations. These figures illustrate the importance of the ATARES-tool for the EATC.