Germany and Norway have placed a firm order for a fleet of five Nato-owned Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft.

Airbus Defence and Space received the order from Europe’s organisation for the management of cooperative armament programmes (OCCAR), as part of the European / Nato Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) programme.

The five new A330 MRTTs will join the two aircraft previously ordered by the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The MRTT acquisition contract includes two years of initial support and four additional options to enable other nations to join the grouping.

Airbus Defence and Space Military Aircraft head Fernando Alonso said: “This new order further demonstrates the A330 MRTT’s position as the world’s premier tanker/transport aircraft.

“But it also firmly establishes the MMF 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.”

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Delivery of all seven aircraft is expected to be completed during the period between 2020 and 2022.

"The aircraft will be configured for in-flight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation flights."

The European Defence Agency (EDA) initiated the MMF programme in 2012 and OCCAR manages the MMF acquisition phase.

The programme is funded by the four nations who will have the right to exclusively operate these Nato-owned aircraft in a pooling arrangement.

The aircraft will be configured for in-flight refuelling, the transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuation flights, Airbus stated.

These aircraft will be operated by a multinational unit from the main operating base in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and the forward operating base in Cologne, Germany.

Image: Officials during the contract amendment signed at the OCCAR headquarters in Bonn, Germany. Photo: courtesy of Airbus SAS.