Aerial Warfare

Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) Participates in US Exercise Red Flag

118
×

Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) Participates in US Exercise Red Flag

Share this article
Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) Participates in US Exercise Red Flag
Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) Participates in US Exercise Red Flag

For the first time, the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) participated in the latest edition of the Red Flag exercise, a combat training exercise hosted several times a year by the United States Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base close to Las Vegas. MMU exercise participants are returning to Eindhoven this week. The exercise – that ended in March – brought together an array of international aircraft, including F/A-18, EA-18G, F-35A and F-35B jets, for daily Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) manoeuvres above Nevada Test and Training Range, spanning an area roughly the equivalent to the Netherlands. Preparation for the mission began long before the jets roared into action. Collaborating closely with Dutch fighter squadrons and the European Air Transport Command (EATC), the MMU’s planning cells orchestrated a meticulously coordinated oceanic crossing involving eight Dutch F-35s and two A330MRTT tankers. Negotiating altitude reservations, flight plans, and diplomatic clearances, the teams navigated the complexities of international airspace while ensuring minimal disruption to civilian air traffic. Ultimately, a route via Portugal and Canada to Bangor, USA, was chosen before the final leg to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

Major David Reed, an US exchange pilot with the MMU, emphasized the unit’s versatility in providing Air-to-Air refueling support alongside the four American KC-135 tankers. “Unlike our American counterparts limited to boom refueling, the MMU’s A330MRTT is equipped with both boom and hose-and-drogue systems, facilitating seamless refueling operations for a variety of aircraft in the same mission.”

Impresseions from the first participation of the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit from Eindhvoven, the Netherlands , in the US-led major fighter exercise Red Flag 24-2 at Nellis Air Force Base. Photo courtesy MMU Public Affairs Office.
Impresseions from the first participation of the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit from Eindhvoven, the Netherlands , in the US-led major fighter exercise Red Flag 24-2 at Nellis Air Force Base. (Photo by MMU Public Affairs Office)

“Following a week of familiarisation to the exercise terrain, Red Flag 24-2 kicked off enabling the MMU team to conduct realistic AAR training with international receivers. Amidst a diverse assembly of attack, fighter, and bomber aircraft, as well as electronic warfare platforms, multi-domain command and control systems and ground-based command centres from the United States and several allies, the multinational tanker unit added a unique dimension to the two-week exercise. The intense nature of Red Flag placed heightened demands on the MMU’s crew, particularly the air refueling operators who are tasked with orchestrating the entire process within tight time constraints. Behind the scenes, MMU technicians worked tirelessly to ensure the aircraft’s readiness, conducting preventive maintenance, pre- and post-flight checks and ongoing inspections to uphold safety standards throughout the exercise,” said the MMU Detachment Commander Major Kees van’t Riet, Royal Netherlands Air Force.

The Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) 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. The fleet is owned by NATO and managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). NSPA provides this support to participating nations through its Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Fleet Support Partnership. The fleet is operated by the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU), comprising of military personnel from the participating countries. The unit is based at the Main Operating Base (MOB) in Eindhoven (the Netherlands) and the Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Cologne (Germany). The MMU declared Initial Operating Capability (IOC) on 23 March 2023, enabling the Unit to perform all type of missions to meet the full range of national and NATO requirements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *