The Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transporter (MRTT) Fleet (MMF) has started conducting the air-to-air refuelling (AAR) test campaign with Saab’s Gripen fighter aircraft.
This was announced by the Nato Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA).
The test campaign, which started on 4 October, is being conducted over the Baltic Sea region.
It involves participation of one MMF aircraft and multiple Gripen fighter jets.
Currently underway, this test campaign involves a series of ground and in-flight assessments to receive operational and technical clearances related to AAR missions.
The related activities are being led by MMF unit, in close coordination with the Swedish and Dutch Flight Test Organisations.
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The campaign is scheduled to conclude on 21 October, following which the test reports will be handed over to the Dutch Military Airworthiness Authority for final evaluation.
The NSPA is expecting to receive the final approval by early next year.
With the final approval, MRTT fleet will be able to conduct the future AAR missions, using its hose and drogue system, with Gripen aircraft fleet of several nations, including Sweden and the Czech Republic.
The capability will further allow the Gripen fighter jets to undertake longer-range operations, with minimum requirement of landing and refuelling.
AAR is a crucial capability for the Nato forces that are deployed to conduct long-range missions.
The Nato’s MRTT aircraft fleet has a basic fuel capacity of 111t that allows the aircraft to conduct aerial refuelling missions without the need of additional fuel tanks.
Owned by Nato and managed by NSPA, the MMF unit is responsible for providing AAR, strategic transport and medical evacuation capabilities to six allied nations.
It includes Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Norway.