Belgium today became the 5th country to join the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF).
Belgium’s accession to the MMF was celebrated during a signing ceremony at NATO headquarters in Brussels also attended by EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq.
The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany and Norway are already members of this multinational defence cooperation project which aims to fill the serious capability gap European nations have in the field of Air-to-Air refuelling (AAR).
The MMF project was initiated by the European Defence Agency (EDA) in 2011. Europe’s organization for the management of cooperative armament programmes - OCCAR - manages the MMF acquisition phase. Following the acquisition phase, the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) will be responsible for the complete life-cycle management of the fleet (A330 MRTT). With Belgium joining, the number of MRTT aircraft ordered will increase from 7 to 8. Delivery of the first aircraft is planned for 2020.
The fleet is funded by the participating nations who will also have the exclusive right to use these NATO–owned aircraft which will operate in a pooling arrangement. The aircraft will be configured for inflight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation flights.
EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq welcomed the further expansion of the fleet: “We are delighted to see that the MMF, which is a good example of European defence cooperation kick-started by the European Defence Agency, is further expanding. It shows that once a capability shortfall has been jointly identified, European nations can pull together, work on a common project aimed at filling the gap, and eventually deliver. It’s Pooling & Sharing at its best”.