The Multinational Multi-Role Tanker and Transport (MRTT) Fleet is an initiative of six NATO Allies who collectively acquire and operate eight Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft, say the Alliance.
The first two aircraft for the fleet are scheduled to be handed over to the Main Operating Base at Eindhoven this June and July and will add a multi-role transport capability to the participating Allies.
“The current global crisis has emphasised the need for multinational cooperation and the ability of Allied armed forces to respond to a broad range of missions in different operating environments,” said Jan der Kinderen, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) MMF System Manager.
“In this context, the newest NSPA multinational programme, the MMF, stands out as a unique example of successful cooperation among NATO and EU Agencies and nations, enabling participating nations to flexibly and rapidly respond to emergencies in multiple capability domains,” he added.
Managed by the NSPA with strong support of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), under the ownership of NATO and operated by a multinational unit, the programme will provide its six participating nations Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway with strategic tanker, transport and medical evacuation capabilities based on pooling aircraft and sharing costs, benefits and risks.
“The success of the MMF relies on the excellent cooperation between NATO and the European Union Nations and agencies since the very beginning of the project in 2011,” said Jan der Kinderen. “This programme serves also as a fine example of how nations can cooperate, pooling and sharing resources to get access to state of the art capabilities that would be difficult or impossible to access individually,” he added.
While the first two A330 MRTT aircraft are ready for acceptance and scheduled to be handed over this June and July, the third and fourth aircraft are currently under conversion at the Airbus Defence and Space facilities in Getafe near Madrid and the fifth aircraft was recently flown to Getafe from Toulouse as a green aircraft.
The A330 MRTT is a state-of-the-art aircraft configured for a variety of missions. In the air-to-air refuelling role, a basic fuel capacity of 111 tonnes allows replenishment of other aircraft without the need for additional fuel tanks, the UK operates this aircraft under the designation ‘Voyager’.
The maximum fuel flow rate of approximately 2,200 litres a minute is achieved using boom or hose-and-drogue mechanisms to refuel all aircraft in the MMF nations’ inventory (F-16, F-35, C-17, Eurofighters, Tornado and Gripen) and most of the other aircraft used within NATO.
The A330 MRTT aircraft can provide air-to-air refuelling, strategic airlift of up to 45 tons of cargo and transport up to 267 passengers simultaneously. The A330 MRTT MEDEVAC configuration allows aeromedical evacuation with six intensive care units and 16 stretchers.