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NATO Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Fleet
 
Latest update: January 2018
 
The NATO Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) program originated from an European Defence Agency (EDA) initiative aimed at the shortfall of Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) capability in Europe. During international operations, Libya and Kosovo, several European (NATO) countries were depending on USAF tankers (KC-10A, KC-135R/T) to refuel their fighters. From 2012 the EDA worked on three projects: optimalization of exiting AAR refueling assets, optimization of the A400M AAR capability and the strategic tanker capailibty (MRTT program). AAR became one of the four key capabilities for the EDA.

1: Optimization of existing capabilities:

Most visible during the annual organized European Air Refuelling Training Exercise (EART) exercise. The first edition was held in 2014 with one of its topics standardization of processes. The European Air Transport Command (EATC) is one of the key organizations within this pillar.

A310MRTT KDC-10 KC-747A


2: Optimization of the A400M AAR capability:

EDA focusses on the acquistion of AAR pods reducing the need for additional aircraft but increasing the amount of available tankers. During 2016 Airbus Defense and Space started the delivery of A400Ms equipped with hose and drogue under-wing refuelling pods. Earlier delivered A400Ms were already manufactured with the equipment and software allowing for a quick reconfiguration of the aircraft to a two-point tanker. Refuelling can also be done through the centerline Hose and Drum (HDU) unit.

German AF A400M equipped with the hose and drogue under-wing refuelling pods. Close up of the refuelling pod on the right wing.

3: Increasing the strategic tanker capability in Europe:

The MFF program kicked-off in 2014 with The Netherlands taking the lead. Both Boeing with its KC-46A Pegasus and Airbus Defense and Space with its A330MRTT were invited to submit their bids. A year later it became clear the A330MRTT was selected as preferred aircraft and would receive an offer for proposal. At that time four aircraft were planned with three to be ordered by The Netherlands, Norway and Poland with one option for an additional aircraft. Luxembourg and The Netherlands placed the first order for two aircraft in 2016. Both will be delivered in 2020 and replace the two KDC-10s currently operated by 334 squadron. Germany and Norway announced to join the MFF program during the NATO summit held at Brussel in 2017 resulting in a contract to purchase five aircraft in October 2017. The contract was also augmented to include an option for four additional aircraft. At the end of December the Belgian minister of defense announced the participating of Belgium. One aircraft will be funded. It's expected that the contract will be signed in the first quarter of 2018. Delivery of all aircraft will take place between 2020 and 2022.
On January 23 an A330MRTT from Airbus Defense & Space (EC-332 / MRTT034 to be delivered to the Singaporese air force) visited Eindhoven AB for a briefing and viewing of the aircraft for staff and guest of the air base. It departed the next day back to Getafe (Madrid, Spain) where the A330s are converted to MRTT.

With The Netherlands in the lead for the MFF program the aircraft will be registered in the Dutch military aviation register. Aircraft will operate from two bases and if still current from a forward operating location (Norway).

  Eindhoven Cologne Total
No. A330MRTT 5 3 8

Including the aircraft to be contracted on behalf of Belgium.
MFF milestones

Date Milestone
   
23-1-2018 Visit by a Airbus D&S A330MRTT to Eindhoven AB.
22-12-2017 Belgium announced to join the MFF program which will lead to one aircraft to be ordered. 
25-10-2017 Five aircraft ordered by Germany and Norway with an option for up to four additional aircraft.
  Four aircraft will be based at Eindhoven Air Base, Netherlands and three at Cologne Bonn Airport, Germany.
29-6-2017 Germany and Norway formally join Netherlands and Luxembourg to operate pooled fleet Airbus A330MRTTs.
28-7-2016 Press release by MoD of The Netherlands purchase of two aircraft with option for one to six aircraft for 
  future participants.
July 2016 Luxembourg and The Netherlands sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to puchase pooled fleet
  of the A330MRTT.
2016 Luxembourg joining MFF program with Belgium and Germany expressing their interest.
2015 Airbus selected to receive a request for proposal.
2014 Airbus D&S and Boeing invited to submit a bid for the MFF contract.
   

For a total overview of the ordered and delivered aircraft visit the A330MRTT page. Within Europe currently only the Royal Air Force operates the A330MRTT designated Voyager KC.2 / KC.3 with the French Air Force expecting its first aircraft in 2019.
 
Photo gallery
 
A Royal Australian Air Force A330MRTT (KC-30A) at Eindhoven AB, August 2014. Royal Air Force Voyager KC.2 at Schiphol March 2015.