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Air bridge to New Caledonia

In May 2024, when France decided to deploy to New Caledonia in the framework of the recent events, the French air and space force turned to EATC to support planning and monitoring the air bridge to be put in place at once.

Urgency was given and, in a blink, EATC experts set up a coordinated plan in close contact with operational authorities in France in order to deploy A400Ms and A330MRTTs from France, via Vancouver (Canada), Honolulu (USA), to Nouméa in New Caledonia. EATC mapped out the movement plans in detail in cooperation with the French counterparts and tasked the respective wings to execute the missions.

960.000 km in 12 days…

… whereas eight rotations from the A400M airbase in Orléans. Seven A400M Atlas transported four helicopters on a distance of 19.000 km to Nouméa: one “Ecureuil”, one “EC145” and two “Puma”. Another 16 rotations by eight A330MRTT Phénix were performed from the home base in Istres, transporting hundreds of passengers and tons of cargo.

EATC’s mission control centre controlled each single flight in real time, standing ready to support in case of an unforeseen situation, including fuel shortages on Pacific islands or ground handling coordination issues.

French Major-General Franck Mollard, Commander EATC, thanks his staff for the success of the mission. “I am proud of how you have supported the French air forces during this crisis. The French chain of command has confirmed their confidence in EATC’s reactivity and ability. I want to thank you all for your professional work and for being ambassadors of EATC’s core value to be committed to deliver the best possible support to our member nations.”

The Commander underlines that “This crisis has shown how relevant a dual fleet can be in order to transport huge equipment like helicopters with the A400M or to deploy quickly with the A330MRTT. It has also shown how essential EATC’s pooling and sharing concept is. Thanks to the immediate support of the other EATC nations, France was able to maintain its already planned transport missions in Africa, the Middle East, or on the Eastern flank and maintain a minimum training in France.”

To General Mollard, “a perfect example of immediate support and perfect cooperation of an exceptional crisis response air operation!”

The nations’ and EATC’s experience of the Pacific region will for sure be confirmed with further deployments, such as, this summer, the Indo-Pacific activities 24. EATC will communicate extensively on these activities. Stay tuned!


@Photo courtesy of French Air Force

Air bridge to New Caledonia

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