The Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transporter (MRTT) Fleet (MMF) has successfully completed the first part of the air-to-air refuelling (AAR ) test campaign with NATO ’s E-3A fleet.

Announced by the Nato Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), the test campaign is being led by the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) Test Organisation.

It also involves active contributions from the US Air Force (USAF), which is supporting the AWACS aircraft’s unit comprising experimental test pilots.

The first part of the campaign included in-flight evaluations with Nato’s E-3A airborne warning and control system (AWACS) fleet.

The tests were conducted to obtain technical and operational clearances and certifications for the E-3A to carry out aerial refuelling operations with MMF aircraft.

Once all the related tests are complete, the allied E-3A AWACS will be the first heavy aircraft to receive fuel from Nato’s tanker aircraft fleet.

The initiative will result in enhancing the overall operational capability of Nato, after receiving certifications from the respective Military Airworthiness Authorities, along with the completion of the test campaign.

It will provide the MMF fleet with the capability to refuel Nato’s E-3A AWACS aircraft as well as the USAF’s E-3G aircraft.

The aerial refuelling capability is a critical factor for Nato forces that undertake long-range air operations.

NSPA MMF system manager Jan Der Kinderen said: “This is an important milestone for the alliance and a great collaboration effort across many organisations.

“For the first time, both the receiver and tanker are Nato-owned assets.

“Once we obtain the certification, the MRTT will be able to conduct aerial refuelling operations with the AWACS, extending the reach of the ‘Nato Eyes in the Sky’ missions.”

Last month, the MMF unit commenced the AAR test campaign with Saab’s Gripen fighter aircraft.