NATO Adds Ninth A330 Tanker/Transport

 - September 28, 2020, 1:02 PM
The MMF now has two A330 MRTTs in service and expects to have four in use by the end of the year. (Photo: NATO)

Airbus has received an order for an A330 MRTT (multi-role tanker/transport) from the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), which is acting on behalf of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. The aircraft adds to eight that are already on contract for the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF). The ninth aircraft is the first of three options in the existing contract to be taken up.

The MMF has six participating nations (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Norway), each of which “buys in” to the program in terms of annual flying hours. Luxembourg, along with the Netherlands, launched the MMF program in July 2016 and has now decided to increase its annual allocation from 200 to 1,200 flying hours. The extra requirement justifies the acquisition of an additional aircraft.

“This is the result of the trust and commitment that Luxembourg has placed in the MMF program since the very beginning of the project,” said Jan der Kinderen, NSPA MMF System Manager. “We are very grateful for this decision as it will offer even more operational flexibility to our partner nations.”

Airbus delivered the first A330 MRTT to the MMF in late June, and the unit now has two aircraft that it is using for training. The third aircraft is due for delivery in October, with a fourth scheduled to arrive in November. All are due to have been delivered by 2024. The first eight are to be divided between the main operating base at Eindhoven in the Netherlands (five), with three allocated to a forward operating base at Köln-Wahn in Germany. No details have been announced for the destination of the ninth, but it is likely to be Eindhoven.

The latest order underlines the increasingly active part Luxembourg plays in the alliance. While it has no real military capability of its own, it has been a central participant in support activities and has funded a single A400M transport to be operated alongside the Belgian fleet.