The European Air Group Steering Group, comprising the Chiefs of Staff or their representatives, of the Air Forces of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the United Kingdom, met virtually on 18 November.
The primary purpose of the European Air Group is to improve operational capabilities among its seven Air Forces, focussing its efforts on delivering tangible outputs primarily through enhanced interoperability at the tactical and operational levels. During the past twenty years, it has generated many highly successful air power initiatives, ranging from technical enablers and training through to air operations, many of which have been tested and improved during the highly successful VOLCANEX exercises. Some of its work has formed the basis for subsequent developments on a substantial scale, including the European Air Transport Command and the European Personnel Recovery Centre.
The Steering Group is the highest governance body for the European Air Group and meets annually to provide high-level direction and guidance for its work. The 2020 Meeting was due to be hosted in Madrid in the summer by the Chief of Staff of the Spanish Air Force, but regrettably was postponed due to the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. With continued restrictions in place across Europe, the decision was taken to convene the Steering Group utilising video-tele-conferencing between the seven nations, enabled by the Permanent Staff of the European Air Group, based at RAF High Wycombe (UK).
The aim of the Steering Group Meeting was to discuss the progress of the European Air Group’s many projects, and for direction to be given to the Permanent Staff for future work. The requirement to continue this important work was emphasised, in order to overcome difficulties imposed by current restrictions due to COVID-19, and the Steering Group was updated on the changes to ways of working in response to the pandemic. The work of the European Air Group is spread across the four European Air Group current domains of interest, which are Air Operations, Force Protection, Logistics and CIS / Cyber. While multinational exercises have proven difficult to achieve during much of 2020, the staff have managed to make good progress across many areas; the production of a Force Protection Command and Control Handbook for use by the national Air Forces, and the implementation of a mechanism to exchange Red Air and other training enablers, are only two examples of the output of over the past year. The outcomes of this meeting will enable work in these domains to move forward with confidence and direction and will be put into effect by the EAG Permanent Staff and specialists from the seven Nations during the coming year and well beyond.
Much of the Air Group’s day-to-day work is carried out by the Permanent Staff, comprising representatives of the seven participating Air Forces.