Thursday

27th Jul 2017

NATO and EU to pool helicopters and air carriers

Both the EU and NATO seek to pool their defence capabilities drawn from the same European countries, after having experienced similar shortfalls in helicopters and air carriers in their missions in Chad and Afghanistan.

The idea has been championed by the French EU presidency, which hopes to see several concrete initiatives adopted in November by EU defence ministers.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now and get 40% off for an annual subscription. Sale ends soon.

  1. €90 per year. Use discount code EUOBS40%
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

At an informal EU defence minister meeting in Deauville on Wednesday (1 October), France obtained the backing of several member states for initiatives such as setting up a trust fund to upgrade Europe's helicopter fleet to make up for shortfalls in helicopters and transport aircraft needed for quick and effective EU deployments abroad.

The final decision will be taken at a formal defence ministers' summit in Brussels on 10 November.

The shortfall in helicopters was already highlighted on Monday, when General Patrick Nash, the operational commander of the EU mission in Chad told a press conference in Brussels that four helicopters might be soon borrowed from Russia, with talks being at "a very advanced stage."

Yet the problem is not unique to the EU mission, as NATO and the United Nations experience similar challenges.

General James Mattis, in charge of NATO's capability development and transformation, recently met his EU counterpart, the chief executive of the European Defence Agency, Alexander Weis, in order to find "areas of common interest", such as helicopter and airlift capabilities.

"In regards to airlift, helicopters, medical transports – whether it is an EU mission to Darfur or a NATO mission somewhere else, we just need those capabilities," General Mattis told journalists at a briefing on Wednesday during NATO Industry Day, which took place in Brussels.

He also stressed that when the EU and NATO draw on troops, they do it "from the same population of forces", which means that the two entities need to look for solutions that "resonate with each other, not contradict each other."

"We're not a the point right now where the EU and NATO are working that closely, although they're starting," General Mattis said.

The French connection

Yet France might play a pivotal role in this regard, with President Nicolas Sarkozy setting the improvement of EU defence capabilities as a precondition for his country to rejoin NATO's military structure, which is expected to take place at NATO's 60th anniversary summit in April next year.

French defence minister Herve Morin proved his commitment to pool EU military capabilities even when asked if the current global financial crisis will have an impact on the member states in terms of defence spending.

"There are two ways you can face an economic crisis, when you have reduction in state revenue," Mr Morin said on Wednesday after the ministers meeting in Deauville.

"One is to say, let's forget everything and say there is nothing we can do in the future. The other reaction is to say, we may have less available, so let's pool our resources. That's a more intelligent response, surely. Let's share we've got, if we are going to have less," he urged.

Boeing for NATO, Airbus for EU

While the French defence minister was unveiling in Dauville a plan to lend Airbus A400M transport planes between EU countries or to create a multinational fleet at their disposal, in Brussels 10 NATO countries plus Sweden and Finland signed a deal to jointly buy and operate three Boeing C-17 carriers.

This NATO initiative, called Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) "will support operations in Afghanistan and elsewhere, as well as other national missions, including EU and UN missions", Peter Flory, NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defense Investment said in a press release.

The 10 NATO members involved in SAC are Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Slovenia and the United States, while the planes are to be placed at the Hungarian air base Papa early next year.

Opinion

Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis

If you were to judge events purely on the US media's headlines, you would be forgiven for wondering if the Polish government had anything to do with its recent controversial judicial reforms.

EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7

The EU executive expects Warsaw to halt the judiciary reform and address concerns over the rule of law, and not to force out supreme court judges, or else the sanctions procedure will start.

News in Brief

  1. Werner Hoyer re-appointed as EU investment bank chief
  2. Spanish PM denies knowledge of party corruption
  3. France 'routinely' abuses migrants, says NGO
  4. Swedish government rocked by data scandal
  5. Member states relocate 3,000 migrants in June
  6. Top EU jurist says Malta's finch-trapping against EU law
  7. EU judges rule to keep Hamas funds frozen
  8. EU court rejects passenger data deal with Canada

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EU2017EELocal Leaders Push for Local and Regional Targets to Address Climate Change
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceMore Women Than Men Have Died From Heart Disease in Past 30 Years
  3. European Jewish CongressJean-Marie Le Pen Faces Trial for Oven Comments About Jewish Singer
  4. ACCAAnnounces Belt & Road Research at Shanghai Conference
  5. ECPAFood waste in the field can double without crop protection. #WithOrWithout #pesticides
  6. EU2017EEEstonia Allocates €1 Million to Alleviate Migratory Pressure From Libya in Italy
  7. Dialogue PlatformFethullah Gulen's Message on the Anniversary of the Coup Attempt in Turkey
  8. Martens CentreWeeding out Fake News: An Approach to Social Media Regulation
  9. European Jewish CongressEJC Concerned by Normalisation of Antisemitic Tropes in Hungary
  10. Counter BalanceOut for Summer Episode 1: How the EIB Sweeps a Development Fiasco Under the Rug
  11. CESICESI to Participate in Sectoral Social Dialogue Committee on Postal Services
  12. ILGA-EuropeMalta Keeps on Rocking: Marriage Equality on Its Way

Latest News

  1. Insults fly after EU ultimatum to Poland
  2. UK requests EU migration study, 13 months after Brexit vote
  3. EU defends airline data-sharing after court ruling
  4. Stop blaming Trump for Poland’s democratic crisis
  5. EU-US scrap on Russia sanctions gets worse
  6. Czechs, Hungarians, and Poles have one month to start taking migrants
  7. EU Commission sets red lines for Poland on Article 7
  8. Court told to 'dismiss' case against EU migrant quotas