Belgium to invest in second tanker aircraft for NATO fleet
Belgium is investing an additional 265 million euros, the equivalent price of an Airbus A330 MRTT tanker aircraft, in NATO's multinational fleet of refuelling and transport aircraft. With this latest contribution, The North Atlantic Treaty Organization's so-called 'MMF fleet' will grow to ten such A330s, two of which are funded by Belgium.
The MMF fleet achieved initial operating capability (IOC) on Thursday, meaning they can be deployed according to minimum requirements. Part of the fleet is stationed in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, while the other aircraft are deployed from Cologne, Germany.
The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium, Norway and the Czech Republic jointly established the "MRTT Multinational Fleet" (MMF). Belgium signed an agreement in 2018 for a thousand flight hours per year at the cost of 258 million euros or the equivalent of one A330 MRTT. The countries have already received seven of the nine ordered aircraft. The ninth should be delivered in 2024, and a tenth aircraft will later be added through the latest Belgian investment.
In Eindhoven, Belgian Defence minister Ludivine Dedonder announced that the federal government's Council of Ministers approved the new 265 million euro investment on Wednesday, bringing the Belgian contribution up to a total of two MRTT equivalents. This additional investment will entitle Belgium to 2,100 flight hours annually from 2027.
MRTT stands for 'Multi-Role Tanker Transport'. Besides refuelling combat aircraft in the air and transporting cargo, the tanker aircraft can also be adapted to carry passengers or assist in medical evacuation. In 2022, the aircraft carried out 521 missions, including 391 air supply and 130 transport missions.
Airbus A330 MRTT tanker aircraft © BELGA PHOTO ERIC LALMAND