Germany and Norway have formally added a further five Airbus Defence & Space A330 multirole tanker transports to a multinational programme launched earlier this year by Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
Airbus on 29 September announced its receipt of a firm order from Europe’s OCCAR defence procurement agency for the additional aircraft, which will increase the partner nations’ pooled fleet of the type to seven units. “All seven are expected to be handed over between 2020 and 2022,” the company says.
Signed in Bonn, Germany, as a contractual amendment to the previous two-nation commitment, the new arrangement includes the provision of an initial two-year support package. “It also includes four additional options, to enable other nations to join the grouping,” says Airbus.
“The aircraft will be configured for in-flight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation flights,” the airframer says.
The European/NATO multinational multirole tanker transport fleet (MMF) is the result of a European Defence Agency programme initiated in 2012.
Airbus Defence & Space’s head of military aircraft, Fernando Alonso, describes the MMF construct as “one of Europe’s most important collaborative programmes, and a model for the future European defence projects which are expected to be launched in the coming years”.
Germany’s air force currently operates four A310 tankers and a single transport – which Flight Fleets Analyzer records as aged between 28 and 30 years, while Norway lacks its own in-flight refuelling capability.