The NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) ordered an additional Airbus A330-243 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) on March 28, increasing the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) to ten aircraft.
This order for a single A330-243MRTT is taken from the four options the MMF currently holds with the European manufacturer and will bring the active fleet to ten aircraft. The MMF currently operates seven airframes and achieved initial operational capability on March 23 this year, with full operational capability expected in mid-2024. The remaining two will be delivered in 2024; this newly ordered aircraft will be delivered in 2026.
The announcement also comes hot on the heels of the report of Belgium’s decision to increase the number of hours in the programme to 1,100 flight hours. The MMF provides strategic transport, air-to-air refuelling and medical evacuation capabilities to its six participating nations: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. These nations signed the Memorandum of Understanding that enables them to share costs proportionally according to the national commitment of flight hours per year.
Jean Brice Dumont, head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space, said: "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 multi-role tanker... 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."
Its success relies on the excellent cooperation between NATO, the participating nations and industry. The programme also stands as an example of how nations can cooperate, pooling and sharing resources to get ongoing access to state-of-the-art capabilities. The unit has been deployed in NATO's Eastern Flank, as well as for the evacuation of Afghanistan civilians and refugees and for multinational exercises in the Indo-Pacific region with the German Air Force, among other missions.