Signature of the Memorandum of Understanding for the Tanker Aircraft
(Source: Belgian Ministry of Defence; issued Feb 14, 2018)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
Today, the countries participating in the Multi Role Tanker Transport program have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) by which our country becomes a full member. One additional multirole refueling aircraft will be ordered.

The Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) is a military aircraft based on an Airbus A330 that can be used for passenger and cargo transport, but also has in-flight refueling capability (AAR, air-to-air refueling) and a medical evacuation capacity. Within NATO and even more so in the EU, there is an urgent need for AAR capability.

The Strategic Vision of Defense clearly expresses the intention to participate in the MRTT Multinational Unit (MMU), which the Council of Ministers approved on 22 December 2017. The MMU is a multinational unit where Multirole Tanker Transport aircraft are commonly used for the benefit of participating countries. Participation in the program is done through the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding by the different participating countries (to date: the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway and Germany have signed).

So far, Belgium has participated in this program as an observer. Full participation in the program is formalized today by the signing of the MOU on the sidelines of the NATO meeting of defense ministers.

On the basis of this MOU, the participating countries request the NSPA (NATO Support Agency) to take charge of the implementation of the program. The purchase itself is carried out by the OCCAR (Joint Organization for Co-operation in Armaments, specialized in the purchase of military equipment) by a contract with Airbus.

Seven aircraft are currently confirmed for the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway and Germany. Now that the MOU is signed by Belgium, the Belgian contribution will be ordered (in this case it is the purchase of an additional aircraft and an annual availability of 1,000 flight hours).

Steven Vandeput said "Thanks to our contribution to the fleet, Defense will finally have an in-flight refueling capability. This project is also a good example of European defense cooperation. By investing together and then sharing the aircraft, we are working to reduce a European capability gap. Our country can already, from 2018, use the first aircraft. It will be necessary to wait until 2025 for all 8 aircraft to be operational. "

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Belgium Joins Allied Effort to Deliver Air-to-Air Refueling Capacity
(Source: NATO; issued Feb 14, 2018)
On Wednesday (14 February 2018), Belgium joined a multinational effort to acquire a European multinational fleet of Airbus multirole tanker–transport (MRTT) aircraft. At a signing ceremony at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Defence Ministers from Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway celebrated Belgium’s official accession to this effort.

The initiative has been supported by NATO and the European Union. It is an example of effective cooperation between the two organizations when delivering critical capabilities for its members.

Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller said: “Increasing our ability to keep our planes flying - for longer periods and farther distances - has a direct bearing on our ability to defend our citizens and our territories.”

The project was launched in July 2016 through an order of two Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft by the Netherlands and Luxembourg, and has expanded steadily. With Belgium joining, the multinational fleet will now grow to eight aircraft, which are scheduled for delivery between 2020 and 2024. The aircraft can be configured for air-to-air refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, as well as medical evacuation missions.

The multinational fleet will be operated from a Main Operating Base in Eindhoven (Netherlands) and a Forward Operating Base in Cologne (Germany).

This multinational fleet arrangement will substantially increase European capacity in air-to-air refueling and reduce the over-reliance on the United States in this area. It remains open to other participants.

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Belgium Joins Multinational Tanker Fleet
(Source: OCCAR; issued Feb 14, 2018)
BRUSSELS --- Belgium today became the 5th country to join the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF).

Belgium’s accession to the MMF was celebrated during a signing ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels also attended by EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq.

The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany and Norway are already members of this multinational defence cooperation project which aims to fill the serious capability gap European nations have in the field of Air-to-Air refuelling (AAR).

The MMF project was initiated by the European Defence Agency (EDA) in 2011. Europe’s organization for the management of cooperative armament programmes - OCCAR - manages the MMF acquisition phase. Following the acquisition phase, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) will be responsible for the complete life-cycle management of the fleet (A330 MRTT).

With Belgium joining, the number of MRTT aircraft ordered will increase from 7 to 8. Delivery of the first aircraft is planned for 2020.

The fleet is funded by the participating nations who will also have the exclusive right to use these NATO–owned aircraft which will operate in a pooling arrangement. The aircraft will be configured for inflight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation flights.

EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq welcomed the further expansion of the fleet: “We are delighted to see that the MMF, which is a good example of European defence cooperation kick-started by the European Defence Agency, is further expanding. It 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”.

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