The Directorship of the European Air Group was handed over from Lieutenant General Alberto Rosso, the Chief of Staff of the Italian Air Force, to Major General Frederik Vansina, the Air Component Commander of the Belgian Armed Forces, at the European Air Group Building, RAF High Wycombe on 15 January 2020.
The Director of the European Air Group Director is a post which rotates between the seven Air Forces of Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and the United Kingdom, and is held by the Chief of Staff of the respective Air Force. The Director’s role is to provide strategic direction to the permanent staff of the European Air Group, on behalf of the Steering Group, which comprises the seven Air Chiefs.
A short handover ceremony took place within the European Air Group Building, allowing Lieutenant General Rosso, as outgoing Director, to thank the permanent staff for their work during his 15-month tenure. He emphasised the importance and relevance of the interoperability work undertaken by the European Air Group, acknowledging the breadth of activity undertaken by the staff, which spans Air Operations, Logistics, CIS and Force Protection. He remarked that the Group had continued to expand into new areas of interest for Air Forces, examples of which are 5th generation platform integration and Counter-Unmanned Air System procedures.
Major General Vansina, now as the 17th Director of the European Air Group, emphasised the value of the European Air Group, remarking that ‘for 22 years now, the EAG has been a unique, highly valuable and effective launch platform for initiatives aimed at increasing interoperability between its seven member nations’ Air Forces’. He emphasised that ‘the main challenge for Air Power in Europe is to maintain today’s level of interoperability’, as Air Forces continue to modernise, employing 5th generation, and in turn 6th generation capabilities. ‘At the brink of the emergence of 5th & 6th Generation combat aircraft, the EAG’s core business is thus more relevant now than ever.’ He also provided direction to the Permanent Staff concluding that ‘I rest assured we have a bright and exciting future ahead of us and that the European Air Group will remain the frontrunner of Air Power in Europe. Today, however, I feel truly privileged to be given the opportunity to lead the European Air Group and to help lead the way towards an ever more interoperable, efficient and resilient cooperation between our Air Forces’.
As the Handover Ceremony took place in RAF High Wycombe, the opportunity was also taken for the Chief of Staff of the Royal Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Mike Wigston to host both Lieutenant General Rosso and Major General Vansina. A tri-lateral meeting of the three Air Chiefs in the morning, preceding the Ceremony, was followed by a more informal get together, when Air Chief Marshal Wigston hosted the Belgian and Italian Delegations for lunch.
The primary purpose of the European Air Group is to promote interoperability among its seven Air Forces, focussing its efforts on delivering tangible outputs primarily at the tactical and operational levels. During the past twenty-two 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.