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Dec 16 2020

First Air-to-Air Refuelling flight test with 

F-16 for the Multinational MRTT Fleet

LUXEMBOURG – The Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) reached another significant milestone on 14 December 2020, as the Multinational MRTT Unit (MMU) conducted the first Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) flight test with Dutch F-16 aircraft. The test flight is part of the certification process of the A330 MRTT and will allow the fleet to fly future AAR missions with the F-16 aircraft type.

This was the first refuelling mission using the Air Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), which opens up a completely new range of training missions for the multinational unit. The data gathered from the test flight will be used as compliance data for the certification of the MMU A330-MRTT as tanker with Dutch F-16A aircraft as receiver.

Further testing may be required to assess the AAR activities between the A330-MRTT and the F-16 during night conditions to fully support an unrestricted AAR clearance. Once the Dutch Military Aviation Authority (MAA-NLD), where all the MMF aircraft are registered, grants the certification, the MMU will be able to fly AAR missions with the boom system and the Dutch F-16A receiver, followed by F-16's in use by the other MMF nations.

First Air-to-Air Refuelling flight test with F-16 for the Multinational MRTT Fleet
MMU conducted first Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) flight test with Dutch F-16 aircraft

A similar process is ongoing for the hose/drogue refuelling system with the German Eurofighter receiver. The final goal for the Unit is to take advantage of the full A330 MRTT capabilities. With the two refuelling systems, the MMF aircraft will be able to refuel almost every fighter and larger receiver aircraft, available in the NATO alliance.

With the first three of nine MMF aircraft delivered in June, August and November this year, the Unit is now performing a wide range of training missions and will gradually deploy on operational tasks in the future. The delivery of the fourth aircraft is planned for early next year, this will provide the six participating nations (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands and Norway) with an enhanced availability to cover their requirement for air- to-air refuelling, strategic transport and medical evacuation.

MFF Aircraft from F-16 cockpit. Photo: RNLAF
MMU Air Refuelling Operators during flight test
MMF  A330 MRTT refuelling Dutch F-16 receiver

Story by NATO Support and Procurement Agency

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