Germany and Norway have officially joined the European/NATO programme to acquire Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft along with Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The two nations committed to participating in the project through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding at NATO HQ in Brussels today.

Known as the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) the programme was initiated by the European Defence Agency in 2012. Europe’s organisation 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).

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 in-flight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation flights.

According to Airbus, 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.

OCCAR Director, Arturo Alfonso-Meiriño said:

“The MMF programme has broken new ground in bringing together the combined capabilities of the EDA, NSPA and OCCAR as one team, with each organisation working within its particular sphere of expertise. I very much welcome that this important initiative has now attracted additional partners to join, and it still includes options for the participation of even more countries.”

EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq said:

“The MMF is a prime example of European defence cooperation which shows that once a capability shortfall has been jointly identified, European nations can pull together, work on a common project aimed at filling the gap, and eventually deliver. It’s Pooling & Sharing at its best.”

Airbus Defence and Space Head of Military Aircraft Fernando Alonso said:

“The A330 MRTT has established itself firmly as the world’s premier tanker/transport aircraft. It is extremely satisfying to now see it adopted as the core asset of one of Europe’s most important cooperative defence programmes. We hope that this collaborative approach will serve as a model for future joint procurements.”



  1. This is talking about a pooled A330 tanker fleet for Germany, Norway, the Netherlands and Luxembourg of 7 aircraft with an option for up to 4 more so maximum 11 A330 whereas the UK has a dedicated fleet of 13 A330 active plus one more leased out but presumably available at fairly short notice to give a total of 14 A330. To me this looks like one area where the UK is pretty well equipped, at least compared to our European and some other counterparts. For another comparison, according to Wikipedia France is in the process of building up to a fleet of 12 A330, Australia building up to a fleet of 7 A330 & Canada with 5 A310. Admittedly at least some of ours really need booms but we don’t seem to be in too bad a place for once.

    • Does the RAF take fully paid up ownership of the Voyagers at the end of the PFI deal or would they have to purchase the tankers and associated buildings and equipment? If payment is due at the end, the RAF may end up with nowt…

  2. Another piece is inched into place in the European Union project to become a United States of Europe. How many purely trading agreements need a flag, an anthem, 5 Presidents, a currency, a Parliament, a police force, a Supreme Court and now military forces?

    We got out of this nightmare just in time because since April and thanks to ‘Qualified Majority Voting’ no country can leave the EU without half the EU countries and 65% of the EU population allowing another ‘Article 50’ letter to even be written!

  3. Good point Chris. We got out of the Greater Germanic Empire or EU as it is otherwise known as just in time.
    We will however have to ensure our countries defences are much better than current as it is only a matter of 15-20 years before the EU will declare they are a unified force with own EU Navy, air force and Army.
    Feel sad for any country thinking about leaving the Germanic dream of European domination.
    If Brexit negotiations go badly we need to just walk away without any payments given unless payments= unfettered access to single market. Not sure in the future whether I even want EU to remain part of NATO. You cannot have a dominant organisation inside NATO. NATO probable should be for Non EU NATO countries, leave Europeans to sort out their own mess in the future. Ungrateful lot, never once have they thanked the UK and allied powers for saving them from German tyrany in ww2 and protecting Europe from Warsaw pact in the cold war. Instead we get demands for tens of billions of £s of uk taxpayers money. That is money, if paid, that is not going to schools, NHS, social care, defence, paying public sector key workers properly (after years of negligible below inflation pay rises), infrastructure, paying down national debt etc, etc.
    What a ridiculous greedy union of nations the EU are. Glad we are taking back our fishing grounds and EEZ as well, not a supporter of Michael give but i definetly applaud this move.

  4. Sorry last paragraph supposed to say not a supporter of Michael Gove but I applaud todays announcement on fisheries and exclusivity. Just found a very good job for our River class batch 2 vessels. Also can we please keep the River batch 1s as an increased patrol force. We are going to need them as the Dutch, Danish, French, Germanic fishermen will enter our waters illegally and ignore our removing ourselves from the London fisheries accord. We need to be resolute and impound any vessels entering our waters illegally.

    • Mr Bell – A well argued point Sir. And yes Gove’s move on the London Accord on fishing is a welcome and early benefit after the stresses of Brexit to date. Far too much scaremongering and negativity (led by the BBC / Guardianistas). And yes the OPVs are arriving at just the right time. Especially when we leave the EU and take back our waters out to 200 miles / Median line. I also think part of the Irish border deal should include co-operation in the Irish Sea and we restore the CTA that dates back to 1923.

  5. Chris- very good points, well argued. I hope the government have got sight on this and include those points in the BREXIT negotiation- not that there is anything to negotiate we are leaving EU, so we regain full control of our maritime domain and borders, no debate and nothing to negotiate on those issues. The EU can cry (as the German fishing industry already is) as much as they like, they should not have pushed us to the exit door by being so belligerent when Cameron tried to negotiate a better deal for the UK.
    The Greater Germanic Empire (Aka the EU) can continue to expand and take over Europe but the UK is once again standing as a sovereign nation on its own, which ultimately will be better for the UK. I have no doubt in the long run, we will all be breathing a huge sigh of relief in 10-20 years that we got out of the stinking mess that is the EU when we did.

    • NATO was conceived before the EEC let alone the EU and it has been the sole reason we have had peace in Europe since WWII. It is just amazing to hear the EU Luvvies on the BBC making out it is the EU itself which has achieved that despite only existing for some 22 years! You only have to recall the EU’s ineptitude in the Balkans to see how totally incapable they are. Again it was the US and the British under a NATO operation that sorted that mess out. Where is the big muscle and flexible assets coming from for Eastern Europe and the Baltic now? Yep the USA and Britain under NATO. The EU can’t even organise a naval response to the onslaught of illegal migrants in the Mediterranean on its own.

      NATO works because it is a group of like minded SOVEREIGN nations working for the mutual good and Article 5 encapsulates the principle that collective defence is at the very heart of NATO’s founding treaty. It binds its members together, committing them to protect each other and setting a spirit of solidarity within the Alliance. Suddenly we have the majority of NATO nations forming up as one ‘bloc’ against, basically, the USA and the UK. That is totally against the NATO concept and we should state quite clearly we are out of NATO asap and will choose when, and if, we get involved in a European conflict ever again. French co-operation on drones and other matters must end but we must remain committed to Norway on at least Maritime issues. Sadly we will also have to loosen the long standing Dutch Marine connection epitomised by the ‘Ship at Prayer’ pennant. The EU is bent on a path to a Socialist Federal State so let them pay for their own defence now. Their choice but we will not be part of it thankfully.


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