Germany and Norway have officially joined the NATO program to operate joint tanker transport aircraft along with Netherlands and Luxembourg.
On June 29, Defense Ministers from Germany and Norway joined a Memorandum of Understanding for a European multinational fleet of Airbus tanker transport aircraft, originally created by the lead-nation Netherlands and Luxembourg.
The two countries launched the initiative in July 2016 by ordering two Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft, which are due to be delivered in 2020. With Germany and Norway joining the initiative, the fleet is expected to expand to up to seven aircraft.
This multinational fleet arrangement is a concrete step towards reducing the overall European shortage in air-to-air refueling and the over-reliance on U.S. capabilities.
Belgium intends to join this program in early 2018, and the initiative remains open to other new members.
Known as the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) the program was initiated by the European Defence Agency (EDA) in 2012. Europe’s organization for the management of cooperative armament programs - OCCAR - manages the MMF acquisition phase as Contract Executing Agent on behalf of the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA).
Following the acquisition phase, NSPA will be responsible for the complete life-cycle management of the fleet.
The Program is funded by the four nations who will have the exclusive right to use these NATO–owned aircraft which will operate in a pooling arrangement. The aircraft will be configured for in-flight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation flights.
The first two aircraft have already been ordered to be delivered from Airbus Defence and Space’s tanker conversion line at Getafe near Madrid in 2020.
Five additional aircraft will now be ordered, and that order will include options for up to four further aircraft.