The Netherlands Ministry of Defence has notified its Parliament of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Luxembourg to proceed with the acquisition of a pooled fleet of Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT) aircraft, and the signing of a contract paving the way for the delivery of two aircraft with options for up to six more when, it is expected, other nations join the grouping. The contract also covers two years of initial support. Further details can be seen at https://www.defensie.nl/english/latest/news/2016/07/28/netherlands-and-luxembourg-buy-tanker-aircraft-together.
Final arrangements will be made in the coming weeks between Europe’s organization for the management of cooperative armament programmes – OCCAR – acting on behalf of the NATO Support & Procurement Agency (NSPA) and the nations, and Airbus Defence and Space for the completion of the financial process resulting in a formal order for the aircraft.
Discussions are underway at various stages with Belgium, Germany, Norway and Poland with a view to those nations also participating in the programme, known as the Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) initiative.
"The purchase of the MRTT A330 type aircraft is an important contribution in addressing the scarce tanker and transport capability of the European Union in particular. In addition to refuelling aircraft and strategic transports, MRTT aircraft can also be used for carrying out medical evacuations, if necessary in intensive care units," stated an announcement from The Netherlands Ministry of Defence.
The fleet will be NATO property, however, Luxembourg and the Netherlands will have exclusive user rights to the aircraft.
The European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European materiel organisation, Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement (OCCAR), are closely involved in the purchase of the aircraft, on behalf on the NATO Support & Procurement Agency (NSPA).
In addition to the purchase, the MRTT project also covers maintenance and operational deployment. The Netherlands is the lead nation in this multinational collaboration project.
The new aircraft will be stationed at Eindhoven Air Base. The Netherlands will also be responsible for registering the aircraft and monitoring their airworthiness. A study will be carried out to determine whether European Air Transport Command, which is also stationed in Eindhoven, will be able to supervise the MRTT pool.
Costs and personnel will be allocated on the basis of the number of flying hours that each country needs. The expected life span of the fleet is 30 years and the investment budget is between €250 million and €1 billion.
Video and imagery of the A330 MRTT can be downloaded from Broadcast Room here.