The Czech Republic has signed an agreement to join the multinational multi-role tanker transport capability (MRTT-C) programme.

The MRTT-C is a multinational initiative to acquire a multi-role tanker transport aircraft (MRTT) fleet to enable additional tanker and transport aircraft capability in Europe.

Initiated in July 2016 by the Netherlands and Luxembourg, the project includes several other countries such as Germany, Norway and Belgium.

Airbus is under contract to deliver eight Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft to strengthen mid-air refuelling capabilities of the European allies.

The aircraft in the MRTT fleet will be owned by Nato. The participating nations have the right to operate the aircraft in a pooling arrangement.

The contract has options for the acquisition of three additional aircraft. Deliveries will take place between 2020 and 2023.

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Airbus is expected to deliver the first two MRTT aircraft in May and June next year respectively.

OCCAR serves as the contract executing agent for the Nato Support & Procurement Agency (NSPA). The organisation is responsible for the management of the programme’s acquisition phase.

Earlier this year, NSPA and OCCAR signed a revised cooperation agreement for the programme.

In a media release, Nato said: “The multinational fleet arrangement is a concrete step towards reducing the overall European shortage in air-to-air refuelling and the over-reliance on US capabilities.” 

In addition to air-to-air refuelling, the Airbus A330-200 will support operations such as medical evacuation, and transport of people and cargo.

Nato deputy secretary General Mircea Geoana said: “I am pleased to see our two organisations come together in this way and hope to see more initiatives like this one in the future.”