First MMF Aircraft Arrives in Eindhoven Main Operating Base
(Source: NATO Support and Procurement Agency, NSPA; issued June 30, 2020)
LUXEMBOURG --- On 30 June 2020, the first Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) aircraft arrived at the Main Operating Base located in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. The ferry flight was successfully completed from Getafe (Madrid), marking a significant milestone for the programme.

The MMF is managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) with the support of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), under the ownership of NATO and operated by an international unit. The fleet will soon enter into service to provide its six participating nations (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands) with strategic tanker and transport capabilities.

The first aircraft recently completed its acceptance process, which lasted three weeks. On 29 June 2020, the aircraft titles were transferred from Airbus Defence and Space to OCCAR, who accepted the ownership of the system and all associated contractual deliverables on behalf of NSPA.

After the arrival of the first aircraft on 30 June 2020, NSPA handed over the aircraft to the Multinational MRTT Unit (MMU), who will operate the aircraft from the Main Operating Base in Eindhoven and the Forward Operating Base in Cologne-Wahn (Germany).

Colonel Jurgen van der Biezen, MMU Commander said: "We are happy to welcome our first MMF A330 MRTT aircraft at our Main Operating Base in Eindhoven. It is a pleasure to see this unique multinational cooperation reaching this important step in the continuous success story of the programme. I am very grateful for the support of the NSPA and OCCAR in the acquisition and management of our A330 MRTT fleet. I am really looking forward to start the first flight operations to support our participating nations with Air-to-Air Refuelling, Air Transport and strategic medical evacuation missions."

Mr Peter Dohmen, NSPA General Manager said: "The MMF programme is a prime example of excellent cooperation between nations, the EU and NATO and the strong collaboration between OCCAR and NSPA. The arrival of the first aircraft at its Main Operating Base in Eindhoven marks a significant milestone. We thank the nations for their trust and wish the MMU great success in their future missions, operating this state-of-the-art aircraft on behalf of our nations".

Based on a pooling and sharing concept, the six participating nations will have access to a total of eight Airbus A-330 MRTT aircraft (with an option to extend the contract up to 11 aircraft in the future) which can provide strategic transport (passengers and cargo), air-to-air refuelling and medical evacuation capabilities.

The second aircraft is scheduled to be delivered at the end of July.

From left to right: Dion Polman (EDA), Jan der Kinderen (NSPA), Philippe Bourlard (OCCAR) and Col Jurgen van der Biezen (MMU)
Background

Back in 2012, the European Defence Agency (EDA) started to address the long-standing European shortfall in the air-to-air refuelling capacity. Since then, this initiative has grown into a mature programme managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), on behalf of the nations.

The Netherlands and Luxembourg initially launched the programme in July 2016, with the first one as the lead nation of the project. Germany and Norway joined in 2017, Belgium followed in early 2018 and Czech Republic lastly joined the MMF programme in October 2019.

The MMF aircraft will be operated by the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) comprising of military personnel of the participating countries. The unit is based at two permanent operating bases, Main Operating Base in Eindhoven and the Forward Operating Base in Cologne-Wahn (Germany). Among the eight MMF aircraft, five will be based in Eindhoven, and three in Cologne.

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Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport Aircraft En Route to Home Base Eindhoven
(Source: Dutch Ministry of Defence; issued June 30, 2020)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
The first new Airbus A330 MRTT has flown from Spain to Eindhoven Air Base. Ultimately, five of these aircraft will be stationed here. They belong to the so-called Multi Role Tanker Transport Capability (MRTT).

This is a NATO aircraft pool shared by six European partners.

In total there will soon be eight aircraft, which can be used to refuel fighter planes in the air. The remaining three will go to Germany.


The plan to arrive at the MRTT was agree in 2016 by Luxembourg and the Netherlands. Belgium, Germany, Norway and the Czech Republic were also enthusiastic about the pool and joined.

The Airbuses do not only function as a flying fuel station. They also transport people and cargo, and can be used for medical evacuations.

The six participating countries jointly take care of the acquisition, management, operation and support of the fleet. France, which owns MRTT aircraft of its own, is collaborating on maintenance and modifications.

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First MRTT Aircraft Delivered to Eindhoven
(Source: European Defence Agency; issued June 30, 2020)
EINDHOVEN --- Preparations for the Multinational Multirole Tanker and Transport Fleet (MMF), aimed to increase Air-to-Air Refuelling capabilities in Europe, reached a significant milestone today when the first Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft was delivered to the fleet's main operating base in Eindhoven.

In total, the fleet could count up to 11 Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft of which eight have already been procured. While the first of them (MMF1) has now been delivered, the consecutive aircraft (2 to 8) will be delivered in the coming years: a brand new MRTT will be delivered roughly every six months to either Eindhoven (The Netherlands) as the 'Main Operating Base' or to Cologne (Germany) as the 'Forward Operating Base Plus'.

Six participating countries so far

The MMF, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) with strong support of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) under the ownership of NATO and operated by an international unit, will provide its six participating Member States (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands) with strategic tanker and transport capabilities.

Based on a pooling and sharing concept, the participating countries will have access to a total of 8 (and in the future perhaps to 11) Airbus A-330 MRTT aircraft which can provide strategic transport (pax and cargo), air-to-air refuelling and medical evacuation capabilities.

The multinational fleet builds on the excellent cooperation between NATO and EU Member States and Agencies since the very beginning of the project. Back in 2011, the European Defence Agency started an initiative to address the long-standing European shortfall in the air-to-air refuelling capacity. Since then, this initiative has grown into a mature programme handed over to and managed by the NSPA on behalf of the participating countries and supported by OCCAR for the acquisition phase.

The MMF programme stands as an example on how European countries can cooperate, pooling and sharing resources to get access to state of the art capabilities that would be difficult or impossible to access individually. All the countries involved, independently of their size and the number of flying hours, have access to the MMF capabilities.

EDA's Chief Executive Jiří Šedivý said: "The Multinational Multirole Tanker and Transport Fleet is a prime example of European defence cooperation done in close coordination with NATO, 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 – as they do with today's delivery of the first aircraft. It's Pooling & Sharing at its best. The European Defence Agency stands ready to assist additional Member States which are in need of AAR capabilities to explore their potential participation in this important project".

NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Investment, Camille Grand, said: "The MRTT fleet's versatility in providing several critical capabilities simultaneously is nothing short of impressive. The aircraft can help respond to crises such as the COVID-19 emergency, by moving medical supplies and conducting medical evacuations. However, the fleet will probably have the most profound impact within the air-to-air refuelling mission, an area where historically many European Allies have lacked capacity.

Therefore, the MRTT fleet will help contribute to a fairer transatlantic burden-sharing at NATO. It is also a successful pilot multilateral cooperation project, bringing together a number of Allies and multiple NATO and EU institutions and agencies in support of the delivery of a major capability".

The Netherlands and Luxembourg initially launched the programme in July 2016, with the first one as the lead nation of the project. Germany and Norway joined in 2017, Belgium followed in early 2018 and Czech Republic lastly joined the MMF programme in October 2019.

The MMF aircraft will be operated by the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) comprising of military personnel of the participating countries. The unit is based in two permanent operating bases, the Main Operating Base in Eindhoven and the Forward Operating Base in Cologne-Wahn. Among the eight MMF aircraft, five will be based in Eindhoven, and three in Cologne.

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