On the 17th January 2018, Air General Javier Salto, the Chief of Air Staff of the Spanish Air Force, handed over the position of Director of the European Air Group to Lieutenant General Enzo Vecciarelli, the Chief of Air Staff of the Italian Air Force. The handover ceremony took place in the European Air Group headquarters at Royal Air Force High Wycombe in the UK and was attended by delegations from Italy and Spain, defence and air attaches from a number of European Air Group nations and the headquarters’ Permanent Staff. This ceremony was particularly significant, as it took place during a year when the European Air Group – or EAG – as a seven-nation organization will celebrate its 20th anniversary.
The position of Director rotates between the Chiefs of Air Staff of the EAG air forces every two years. The Chief of Staff of the Spanish Air Force has been the Director since January 2016, beginning with Air General Arnaiz, who handed over to Air General Salto in April 2017. During the ceremony, Air General Salto highlighted the substantial progress that the EAG is making in the airpower domain and expressed his thanks to the air forces’ representatives and the Permanent Staff for their work. He reserved special thanks to the former Deputy Director, Brigadier General Giacomo De Ponti, for his work and the current Deputy Director, Air Commodore Robert Adang, under whose tenure the EAG has embarked on new project areas including the keynote Combined Air Interoperability Programme. On becoming the new Director, Lieutenant General Vecciarelli emphasized that for twenty years now, the EAG has been playing a vital role in promoting closer military cooperation and moving interoperability initiatives forward amongst its members and he expressed his ambition to further develop the support for the EAG at the strategic and political level.
The European Air Group comprises the air forces of its seven member nations: Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. The Group’s mission is to provide solutions for interoperability between its members air forces, so that they are able to operate as one across the spectrum of conflict. It operates under the direction of a Steering Group composed of the Air Chiefs of the seven member air forces, which is chaired by the Director. The EAG is extensively networked and cooperates with a number of other nations and multinational organizations to generate tangible results at the tactical and operational levels, that are of direct and lasting benefit to the participants.
Lieutenant General Vecciarelli becomes Director at a time when the Group is engaged in many projects across four principal domains: Air Operations, Communication Information Systems/Cyber, Force Protection and Logistics, and has recently embarked on a new Combined Air Interoperability Programme, which aims to address the future challenges posed by operating combinations of 4th and 5th generation air systems.
All photographs were taken by SAC Ed Wright, Royal Air Froce.