Logistics: Expanding The NATO Pool


October 3, 2017: Germany and Norway ordered five Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transports (MRTT) for the NATO joint aerial tanker force. The MMF (Multinational MMRT Force) was established in 2012. Two A330s have already been provided by Netherlands and Luxemburg. The seven MMF MRTT aircraft were purchased with an option to quickly obtain four more if other nations offered to join.

MMF is funded by the four participants of the project 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 inflight refueling, the transport of passengers (including VIPs) and cargo as well as for medical evacuation flights. The aircraft will be operated by a multinational unit from the Main Operating Base in Eindhoven (Netherlands) and Forward Operating Base in Cologne (Germany). Unfortunately the deal value wasn’t stated but we can suspect that it will be little higher than for South Korea one from 2015 (about 1.3 billion dollars for four aircrafts). On the other hand the delivery of all so far contacted seven aircrafts is expected to complete between 2020 and 2022.

The A330 MRTT is basically a converted civilian A330-200 airliner. This solution allows quite easy redesign of existing airframes thus reducing design costs. However in contrary to the older solutions the A330 MRTT isn’t simple tanker anymore but thanks to its modular design can also serve as transport aircraft, MedEvac or VIP transport. The aircraft can be used in mixed configuration like troop transport and air-to-air refueling without problems. The A330 MRTT can carry up to 111 tons of fuel or up to 300 passages, 40 stretchers plua 20 seats for medical staff and 100 passengers in MedEvac variant or 37 tons of cargo on 8 military pallets. This numbers are different if aircraft is in mixed configuration. For tanker variant the aircraft can use one receptacle boom and two flexible hoses that trail from the tanker aircraft (probe-and-drogue refueling method). The A330 MRTT has also been ordered by France, Britain, Australia and Saudi Arabia. So far 28 MRTT have been delivered.

This Norwegian and German joint purchase of A330 MRTT is another step in good direction to improve insufficient European strategic transport and air refueling capabilities. Furthermore thanks to pooling and sharing method usage costs should be lower. -- Przemysław Juraszek


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