The second aircraft in NATO’s future fleet of multi-role aircraft arrived in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, on Monday (10 August 2020). The milestone follows the arrival of the first aircraft from the production facility in Getafe, Spain on 30 June. By the end of 2024, the full fleet will consist of eight Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft, with an option to extend the contract up to eleven aircraft in the future.
The fleet will provide strategic transport of people and cargo, substantially enhance European air-to-air refueling capabilities, and will be available for medical evacuation, if needed. Six NATO Allies have pooled resources to make this initiative possible: Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. The effort has been supported by NATO and the European Union, demonstrating effective cooperation between the two organisations to deliver critical capabilities for their members. The aircraft are owned by NATO and managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency, with the support of the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation.
The aircraft will be operated by a multinational unit comprised of military personnel from the participating countries. The fleet will be located at a Main Operating Base in Eindhoven, which will host five aircraft, and a Forward Operating Base in Cologne-Wahn, Germany, which will host the remaining three.
The Netherlands and Luxembourg initially launched the programme in July 2016, with the Dutch assuming lead nation status for the project. Germany and Norway joined in 2017, Belgium followed in 2018, and the Czech Republic joined the programme in 2019.