Germany and Norway officially joined the European/NATO program to acquire Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft along with Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The two nations committed to participating in the project through the signing of a MoU at NATO HQ in Brussels today. “This multinational fleet arrangement is a concrete step towards reducing the overall European shortage in air-to-air refueling and the over-reliance on U.S. capabilities”, NATO said in a statement.
Known as the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) the programme was initiated by the European Defence Agency (EDA) in 2012. Europe’s organization for the management of cooperative armament programmes – OCCAR – manages the MMF acquisition phase as Contract Executing Agent on behalf of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA). Following the acquisition phase, NSPA will be responsible for the complete life-cycle management of the fleet.
The Programme is funded by the four nations who will have the exclusive right to use these NATO–owned aircraft which will operate in a pooling arrangement. The aircraft will be configured for inflight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation flights. The first two aircraft have already been ordered to be delivered from Airbus Defence and Space’s tanker conversion line at Getafe near Madrid in 2020. Five additional aircraft will now be ordered, and that order will include options for up to four further aircraft.
Belgium also intends to join the programme in early 2018, and the NATO statement affirmed that the initiative remains open to other new members.
Source: European Defence Agency