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NATO receives first MRTT aircraft in MEDEVAC configuration

NATO's third MMF aircraft arrives in the Netherlands
Photo: NATO

NATO’s third multi role transport tanker (MRTT) aircraft which was delivered as part of the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) program arrived at its main operating base in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, on November 19.

This third aircraft is the first of the fleet to be converted into the aeromedical evacuation (MEDEVAC) configuration.

Upon completion of the acceptance process, the ownership of the aircraft was transferred (through OCCAR) from Airbus Defence and Space to the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), who manages the fleet on behalf of the MMF nations.

The aircraft is now scheduled to undergo (MEDEVAC) configuration conversion in Cologne, Germany. The MEDEVAC kit consists of up to six intensive care units (ICU). In addition to six intensive care patients, another 16 patients can be transported on stretchers.

The first and second aircraft were delivered in June and August 2020. The Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) is now operating the aircraft for training purposes and will gradually deploy on operational tasks in the next months. The delivery of the forth aircraft is planned for early next year. From that point on, a new A330 MRTT will be added to the fleet regularly, with the expected delivery of the last aircraft on order at the end of 2024.

The full fleet will consist of nine aircraft capable of providing 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).

The aircraft are 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.

In 2012, the European Defence Agency (EDA) started to address the long-standing European shortfall in the air-to-air refueling capacity. Since then, this initiative has grown into a mature program managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), on behalf of the nations. The Netherlands and Luxembourg initially launched the program in July 2016, with the first as the lead nation of the project. Germany and Norway joined in 2017, Belgium followed in early 2018 and Czech Republic lastly joined the MMF program in October 2019.

The MMF aircraft will be operated by the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) comprising of military personnel from the participating countries. The unit is based in two permanent operating bases, the main operating base in Eindhoven and the forward operating base in Cologne-Wahn (Germany). Among the nine MMF aircraft, five will be based in Eindhoven, and four in Cologne.