France has signed a Letter of Intent with Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway for cooperation on strategic airlift, air refuelling

A Letter of Intent on cooperation around the Multi Role Tanker and Transport Capability (MRTT-C) was signed between France and the five current MRTT-C participants: Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway.

The Letter of Intent sets out areas of cooperation including exchanges of expertise and joint training.

The MRTT-C initiative will provide its participants with strategic airlift, air-to-air refuelling and medical evacuation capabilities, enabling them to conduct more flexible air operations. Participants in the initiative will operate Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft starting in 2020. A total of eight aircraft will be procured and operated by the participating nations in the following years.

The MRTT-C programme is an initiative of the European Defence Agency. The aircraft are owned by NATO and procured by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) through the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR). NATO ownership allows all participants to benefit from the complete fleet through a flexible and guaranteed pooling and sharing concept. They will be stationed at the Eindhoven and Cologne airbases and will include a 24/7 medical evacuation capability. Participation in the MRTT-C initiative is open for other member states to join.”

NATO says that this will help make maintenance and repair operations for the MRTT-C more affordable.

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So, the NATO link means RAF planes could call on the new group in the event of crisis or fuel miscalculations?


yup, shared resource just like when Spain refuels Russian ships….. oh hang on


The RAF can therefore practice boom refueling on its C-17s, and (future) P-8s and E-7s


I’m sure in an operational scenario we could but it’s unlikely we’ll use them any other time due to the penalty clauses imposed under the contract with Airtanker Services who operate our tankers.


It was just a thought. I would expect we could reciprocate in a similar scenario?

Chris H

@DaveS – As was discussed here at length recently there is nothing in the Air Tanker contract to stop or inhibit the RAF / FAA drawing fuel from foreign owned tankers.


Slightly off topic (and hugely hypothetical) but I would love to hear the thoughts of others on this… What if NATO proposed sharing the cost of Nuclear weapons of it’s constituent member states defence budgets? A fair chunk of our budget for the forseeable future is going towards the Dreadnaught program. If this was financed, owned and administered by NATO, the costs could be diluted amongst it’s members right? – meaning a huge saving for the UK – but at the cost of no sovereign Nuclear armaments ourselves. My question/s to you all is – would the UK want to… Read more »


To my knowledge we are already part of NATOs mutual nuclear deterrent as are the french and US, we all just have the ability to use our deterrent for ourselves too

EDITS for my poor use of the English language!

Daniele Mandelli

Politics. That question is like a hand grenade into the ridiculous Tory leader televised debate. Difficult subject this. My response is likely to send many a lefty into a pink fit and be very un PC. Has done before. Apologies in advance, I know not all on the left are far left who are offended by the UK being somebody and wish us to crawl under a rock and stay there. But… My response is no. It goes beyond NATO, and into political and national status. Long Answer: The EU wishes to have a seat on the UNSC P5 instead… Read more »


The deterrent is great for british industry also, barrow will get many years work and earn many millions in the process for the country in tax and wages ect. It’s good to have huge expensive worthwhile projects like dreadnought, such a cool name.


Matt, I mentioned this a couple of years ago, German parliament voted into law that it was acceptably to pay into another countries nuclear program to be under the umbrella. After that then it is clear that other countries in Europe would pay to be part of a nuclear program, and I am all for it, anything that spreads the cost of something that will likely never get used is fine by me. Daniele, I have to say I disagree with you on this, I’m sorry but “status” because of our nuclear weapons has not made a slight difference to… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Hi Sole

I don’t disagree with any of that and I do not think I said they were the be all and end all.

I would say having more than one arrow in the quiver is desirable and the UK has arrows from all of those.

Do you think the UK would still be a UNSC P5 without a nuclear deterrent?


Yes absolutely, we were never in it for having a nuclear deterrent, we were in it because we helped found it and was on the winning side of WW2. We didn’t have our own nuclear weapons at the time of the UN founding. Any change to the UN would require our vote. And we are in it now because of our strong technologically advanced conventional military, soft power superpower, diplomatic power and resources, the commonwealth. The thing with nuclear weapons is they are only used as a deterrent nothing else, they stop the major powers going into a full scale… Read more »

Alan Reid

Yes, I largely agree Sole – and for me it works on two levels. While Russia maintains a nuclear arsenal, the UK and France will need to retain a similar capability to independently neutralise or deter the Russian threat. In addition, as the US shares its nuclear secrets with Britain, the arrangement locks America into the defence of the UK, and more widely, Western Europe; a long-term objection of British foreign and defence policy since the dark days of 1940. Daniele highlights the additional benefit of “status”, and although this is perhaps more intangible, it is a view that seems… Read more »


If countries want to pay for nuclear protection, ok since it’s basically covered by article 5.
but the decision to use them should be a sovereign matter always.
Too many cooks and nothing happens or at least quickly enough in case of emergency.

Chris H

So let me get this right? 5 EU countries and Norway that are not prepared to fund their own defence to the minimum NATO requirements are now to be given the use of 8 tankers courtesy of NATO? Did the UK, Canada and the USA agree to this? Where is NATO getting the money for this? How come the UK has had to fund (parking the Air Tanker debate) 14 x A330 MRTTs but France and Germany get to have a 1/6th share of 8 funded by someone else? And if that financial sleight of hand isn’t enough is it… Read more »