A prime example of multinational cooperation
The success of the MMF relies on the excellent cooperation between NATO and the European Union Nations and Agencies since the very beginning of the project. Back in 2011, the European Defence Agency (EDA) 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 managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), on behalf of the nations, and supported by the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) on the acquisition phase.
While this is a prime example of inter-Agencies cooperation, this programme stands also as an example on how nations 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 nations involved, independently of their size and the number of flying hours, have access to the MMF capabilities.
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 Czechia lastly joined the MMF programme in October 2019.
Eight MRTT aircrafts, three capabilities
Based on the participating nations requirements, eight Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft were procured by OCCAR, on behalf of NSPA. These state of the art aircraft are configured for a variety of missions, from air-to-air refuelling (both boom and hose and drogue), to troop transport, VIP transport, cargo/freight transport and can also be re-configured for aeromedical evacuation.
The 111 tonnes basic fuel capacity enables the aircraft to excel in air-to-air refuelling missions without the need for any additional fuel tanks. Moreover it can provide, a maximum fuel flow rate of approximately 2,200 litres a minute, using a boom and a hose and drogue mechanism, can quickly fuel all of the aircraft in inventory with the MMF nations ( F-16, F-35, C-17, Eurofighters, Tornado and Gripen ) and most of the other aircraft used within NATO.