The newest NSPA multinational programme, the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker and Transport Fleet (MMF), stands out as a unique example of successful cooperation among NATO and EU Agencies and nations, enabling participating nations to be flexible and to rapidly respond to emergencies in multiple capability domains.
The MMF, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) with the strong support of the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), under the ownership of NATO and operated by an international unit, will provide its six participating nations (Belgium, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, Norway and the Netherlands) with strategic tanker and transport capabilities.
The Netherlands and Luxembourg initially launched the programme in July 2016, with The Netherlands as the lead nation for the project. Germany and Norway joined in 2017, Belgium followed in early 2018 and Czech Republic lastly joined the MMF programme in October 2019.
Based on the participating nations requirements, eight Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft were procured by OCCAR, on behalf of NSPA. These state of the art aircraft are configured for a variety of missions, from air-to-air refueling (both boom and hose and drogue), to troop transport, VIP transport, cargo/freight transport and they can also be re-configured for aeromedical evacuation.
The 111 tonnes basic fuel capacity enables the aircraft to excel in air-to-air refueling missions without the need for any additional fuel tanks. Moreover it can provide, a maximum fuel flow rate of approximately 2,200 litres a minute, using a boom and a hose and drogue mechanism, can quickly fuel all of the aircraft in inventory with the MMF nations ( F-16, F-35, C-17, Eurofighters, Tornado and Gripen ) and most of the other aircraft used within NATO.
NSPA's role as MMF System Manager
To satisfy the mission assigned by the MMF participants, NSPA created the MMF System Management Office, with the objective of acquiring, managing and supporting the fleet of MRTT aircraft and related assets.
The involvement of other Agencies was key to the success of the MMF initiative. The European Defence Agency (EDA) played a critical role in the early stages of the programme and the close cooperation with OCCAR is still essential during the acquisition phase.
The many actors involved in the success of the MMF act under the direction and supervision of the NSPA's MMF System Manager, who manages and coordinates the programme of behalf of the nations. The core team of the MMF is based at the NSPA headquarters in Capellen (Luxembourg) but others provide support from other locations (Eindhoven, Cologne-Wahn, Bonn and Getafe).
This organization is unique in the Agency and could be a template for other initiatives in the future, aiming at procuring complex weapon systems for NATO Nations through a cooperative approach.
The MMF aircraft is led by an international MMF Military Unit based in two permanent locations in Eindhoven (The Netherlands) and Cologne-Wahn (Germany), with the capacity to deploy for short and long assignments globally, in support of national tasks, NATO, the EU and other multi-national commitments. The MMF Initiative is still open to new partners and is expected to grow in the near future. Following the guidance received from the MMF Nations, NSPA actively seeks cooperation with other MRTT users around the world to enhance opportunities and maximize the positive synergies identified in the programme.