On 23 March 2023, the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Unit (MMU) declared Initial Operating Capability (IOC), enabling the Unit to perform all type of missions (Air Transport, Air to Air Refueling and Aeromedical Evacuation) to meet the full range of national and NATO requirements. The event to mark this milestone was held at Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands, in the presence of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, defence ministers and representatives from the six participating nations. The six defence ministers also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) during the ceremony to add a tenth aircraft to the fleet.
“This fleet has already proven its value and it is the backbone of NATO’s airpower. In 2022 alone, this fleet flew more than 500 missions, refuelling hundreds of fighter jets that keep Allied airspace safe. I would like to thank the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, the European Defence Agency and OCCAR for working together to develop this state-of-the-art fleet,” Mr Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General said.
The fleet provides strategic transport, air-to-air refueling and medical evacuation capabilities to its six participating nations: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Norway. Seven aircraft in the Fleet are already in service. Two aircraft are expected to be delivered in 2024, while the tenth aircraft will be delivered at the end of 2026. The Multinational MRTT Fleet stands out as a unique example of effective cooperation between NATO and the European Union in delivering critical capabilities.
The programme is based on a pooling and sharing concept, laid down in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), in which the participating nations pool the aircraft and share costs while benefiting from economies of scale. Owned by NATO and managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), the fleet is operated by the Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Unit (MMU), comprising of military personnel from the participating countries. The unit is based at the Main Operating Base in Eindhoven (the Netherlands) and the Forward Operating Base in Cologne (Germany).