Going Dutch Splitting the MRTT bill

Royal Netherlands Air Force Col Jurgen van der Biezen explains to Sven van Roij how the Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport unit came to be

Col Jurgen van der Biezen gazes at his unit from inside his office, the former building of the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) 334 and 336 transport squadrons. Not far away is the largest maintenance hangar on the base, and inside it, the third and newest Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).

“We have three brand-new A330 MRTT aircraft here at our main operating base (MOB) of the multinational MRTT unit (MMU). Two of them are practising from our forward operating base (FOB) in Cologne-Wahn, Germany. [The] third has just been delivered to us by Airbus and is standing in the shed,” he said, referring to the aircraft in the maintenance hangar.

However, it took 30 years of guts and air-to-air refuelling (AAR) experience to get this far. The signing of a letter of intent in November 2012 made the Netherlands the lead nation in a European effort to solve a strategic shortcoming in AAR. The goal was to guarantee transportation and an AARcapacity with lower costs in the future. However, the story of how the RNLAF achieved all this began much earlier – 25 years earlier in fact. In the early 1990s, prompted by a serious shortage of military transport and AAR aircraft, the Dutch parliament decided to end the Netherlands’ dependence on the United States Air Force (USAF).

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