The Czech Republic became the sixth country to join the European Union (EU)/NATO Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF).
The European Union/NATO Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Fleet will now comprise six countries operating eight MRTT tankers. (Dutch MoD)
NATO announced on 24 October that the country had joined Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and Norway in operating eight Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft in an attempt to offset some of Europe’s reliance on the United States for aerial-refuelling services.
This initiative was launched by the Netherlands and Luxembourg in 2016 and aims to boost the ability of European allies to refuel aircraft in mid-air.
As noted by NATO, the first two aircraft are expected to be delivered in May and June 2020, respectively. The six countries will have the exclusive right to operate these NATO-owned MRTTs in a pooling arrangement. The aircraft will be configured for in-flight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical-evacuation flights.
Five MRTTs will operate from the Multinational MRTT Unit’s (MMU’s) main operating base at Eindhoven airbase in the Netherlands and three from the forward operating base at Cologne-Wahn airbase in Germany.
In addition to the eight MRTTs now contracted, there are options for a further three aircraft should other countries join the programme. Poland is one country that has previously declared its interest in a pooled tanker capability.
The Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) is managing the acquisition phase of MMF on behalf of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), which will then be responsible for the complete life-cycle management of the fleet.