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Gerhard Heiming

The second Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft was handed over to the Multinational MRTT Unit (MMU) on 10th August 2020, after the first aircraft was handed over on 29th June. Following final assembly in Getafe, Spain, a team from OCCAR, NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) and the MMU have been conducting acceptance tests on the A330 MRTT at manufacturer Airbus Defence and Space’s facilities since the beginning of July. Acceptance was completed through the Certificate of Acceptance and the Commitment Letter after both documents were signed by the takeover team in Getafe and by OCCAR in Bonn (due to the pandemic).

Airbus has thus far delivered the second of eight A330 MRTTs ordered by OCCAR (under a European Defence Agency initiative) on behalf of The Netherlands and Luxembourg (initiators of the MMU from 2016) Germany and Norway (joined 2017), Belgium (participating since 2018) and the Czech Republic (from 2019). The aircraft will become NATO property and be operated by the NSPA. Five A330 MRTTs will be based at the MMU’s main operating base in Eindhoven, close to European Air Transport Command while the other three aircraft will be stationed at its forward operating base in Cologne/Bonn.

Next steps

The MMU’s second A330MRTT will undergo further tests in Eindhoven, at the end of which the airworthiness certificate will be issued. The first aircraft has carried out training missions for the unit in recent weeks and is currently undergoing a routine maintenance check (A-check). The first two aircraft will enable the MMU to provide strategic transport, air-to-air refuelling (AAR) and medical evacuation (MedEvac) capabilities to the six participating nations in the foreseeable future as an initial capability, thus demonstrating a best practice example of multinational cooperation. The third, fourth and fifth aircraft are currently being converted by Airbus with the rest of the fleet to follow by the end of 2024. To date, eight A330 MRTT aircraft have been ordered for the entire fleet with an option for it to grow to up to 11 aircraft. Among other things, additional participants are to be recruited for this.

The MMU should grow to its target strength of 370 personnel by 2023 with Germany to provide 62 per cent. It is supplemented by support personnel at the Eindhoven and Cologne/Bonn locations and in addition, there are technical and medical personnel for AirMedEvac missions.