The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) has ordered an additional Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).
The tanker will join NATO’s Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF), bringing it to 10 aircraft. The fleet is located in Eindhoven Air Base, in the Netherlands, which also houses all the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s transport aircraft.
“Since the arrival of the first aircraft in 2020 and especially since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the MMF is protecting European sovereignty and showing its capabilities as a multirole tanker,” said Jean Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space. “With this new order, NSPA has already acquired one out of four optional MRTTs requested beyond the nine aircraft contracted earlier, demonstrating the level of customer satisfaction.”
What is NATO’s Multinational MRTT Fleet?
Launched in 2012 by the European Defense Agency, the MMF program aims to create a multinational tanker fleet on behalf of six European countries, namely Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway, and the Netherlands, with the latter as the lead nation for the project. The MMF aims to provide strategic transport, air-to-air refueling, and medical evacuation capabilities to its participants.
Deliveries started in June 2020, with seven aircraft received to date. The Multinational MRTT Unit (MMU), comprising military personnel from the participating countries, declared Initial Operational Capability (IOC) on March 23, 2023. Full Operational Capability (FOC) is expected in mid-2024, according to Airbus.
“This fleet has already proven its value, and it is the backbone of NATO’s airpower,” Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, said at the time. “In 2022 alone, this fleet flew more than 500 missions, refueling hundreds of fighter jets that keep Allied airspace safe.”
The A330 MRTT is a multirole aircraft, both a tanker and a carrier of freight and passengers based on the A330. In addition to those involved in the MMF program, seven countries currently operate the A330 MRTT.