NATO Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Fleet Continues to Grow
NATO Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Fleet Continues to Grow

NATO Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Fleet Continues to Grow

On 31 August 2021, the fifth A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft of the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) arrived at its Main Operating Base in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The day before, ownership of the aircraft was transferred from Airbus Defence and Space to OCCAR on behalf of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), who manages the fleet for the MMF nations.The delivery of this fifth aircraft represents another successful step in the construction of a fleet ready to provide strategic transport, air-to-air refuelling and medical evacuation capabilities to its six participating nations (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Norway).

With this addition, the programme is half way to completion, as the full fleet will consist of nine aircraft. The first, second and third aircraft were delivered in June, August and November 2020, the fourth joined the fleet in April 2021. The Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit is now mainly operating the aircraft for training purposes and has started to gradually perform operational tasks. In July, the crew flew an air transport mission for the first time in support of the Czech Republic and in May, they performed the first operational flight for the Luxembourg Army, flying a national contingent to a support mission in Mali. In the last weeks, the MMU has also been involved in the evacuation of military personnel and civilians from Afghanistan.

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NATO Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) Unit pilots after arrival
NATO Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) Unit pilots after arrival. (Photo by NATO)

The sixth and seventh MMF aircraft are currently in different stages of their MRTT conversion at Airbus facilities in Getafe, Madrid and will be delivered to the MMU in February and July 2022. The Multinational MRTT Fleet is owned by NATO and managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) with the support of the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) on the acquisition phase until the end of 2022. The Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit, formed by military personnel from the six participating nations, operates the fleet. All six Allies have access to the MMF capabilities based on the number of flying hours contracted.

Within the Air-to-Air Refuelling Initiative of the European Defence Agency several Nations have agreed to co-operate in a multinational Programme: The Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Aircraft Fleet which will provide additional tanker and transport aircraft capability in Europe. The large 111 tonnes basic fuel capacity enables the aircraft to excel in air-to-air refuelling missions without the need for any additional fuel tanks within the passenger area. Thanks to its true widebody fuselage, it can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry up to 267 troops, or a payload of up to 45 tonnes. It can also be easily converted into Medical Evacuation Configuration to accommodate up to 6 Intensive Care Units and 16 stretchers.

 Representatives from Airbus Defence, OCCAR and NSPA before take off in Getafe, Madrid.
Representatives from Airbus Defence, OCCAR and NSPA before take off in Getafe, Madrid. (Photo by NATO)
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