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NATO receives first A330 tanker transport aircraft

Airbus photo of the first A330 MRTT taking off during an industrial flight at Getafe, Spain.

NATO has taken delivery of the first of eight Airbus-built A330 multi role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft ordered for the alliance’s multinational MRTT fleet (MMF) program.

Airbus handed over the aircraft in a ceremony held at its Getafe site in Spain. The first unit is scheduled to take off towards its main operating base located in Eindhoven, the Netherlands on June 30. The MMF fleet will also operate from a second location, the forward operating base in Cologne, Germany.

The MMF, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) will provide its six participating nations – Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands – with strategic tanker and transport capabilities.

“The MMF program is a prime example of excellent cooperation between nations, the EU and NATO and the strong collaboration between OCCAR and NSPA,” Peter Dohmen, NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) general manager, said.

“This unique state-of-the-art capability will enable our participating nations to perform a wide range of operations in multiple domains. We thank the nations for their continued trust in NSPA as the system manager and wish them success in their future missions.”

Royal Netherlands Air Force graphic

NATO MRTT program

Based on the participating nations requirements, eight Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft were procured by OCCAR, on behalf of NSPA. These aircraft are configured for a variety of missions, from air-to-air refuelling (both boom and hose and drogue), to troop transport, VIP transport, cargo/freight transport and can also be re-configured for aeromedical evacuation.

The 111 tonnes basic fuel capacity enables the aircraft to excel in air-to-air refueling missions without the need for any additional fuel tanks. Moreover, it can provide, a maximum fuel flow rate of approximately 2,200 litres a minute, using a boom and a hose and drogue mechanism, can fuel all of the aircraft in inventory with the MMF nations ( F-16, F-35, C-17, Eurofighters, Tornado and Gripen ) and most of the other aircraft used within NATO.

EDA (European Defence Agency) initiated the program in 2012. OCCAR manages the MMF acquisition phase and the first two years of the initial in-service-support as contract executing agent on behalf of NSPA. Following the acquisition phase, NSPA will be responsible for the complete life-cycle management of the fleet.

The MMF aircraft will be operated by the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) comprising of military personnel of the participating nations. Among the eight MMF aircraft, five will be based at the MOB in Eindhoven, and three at the FOB+ in Cologne.