The Netherlands and Luxembourg have geared up to purchase two A330 multi role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft from Airbus for use by Nato.
The aircraft will be stationed at Eindhoven Air Base, the Netherlands, to address the scarce tanker and transport capability of the European Union.
The European Defence Agency (EDA) and the European materiel organisation Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement (OCCAR) are involved in the purchase of the aircraft, on behalf of the Nato Support & Procurement Agency.
Belgium, Germany, Norway and Poland may also join the pooling and sharing of MRTT A330 type aircraft in the near future.
The two participating countries are considering the possibility of partnering with France and the UK, among others, for training and instruction as well as maintenance of the aircraft.
If more countries join the programme, the design costs will be shared with these countries, leading to lower costs for Luxembourg and the Netherlands, the Dutch Ministry of Defence said in a statement.
Delivery of the two refuelling aircraft will begin in 2020. The number of A330 MRTT aircraft to be purchased could eventually increase to eight.
The Netherlands will take responsibility to register the aircraft and monitor their airworthiness.
A study will also be conducted to find out whether European Air Transport Command, which is also stationed in Eindhoven, will be able to supervise the MRTT pool.
The expected life span of the fleet is 30 years and the investment budget is between €250m and €1bn.
The countries will share the costs and allocate personnel based on the number of flying hours they need.
Besides refuelling aircraft and strategic transports, the MRTT aircraft can also be used to carry out medical evacuations, if necessary in intensive care units.
Image: Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft. Photo: courtesy of The Netherlands Ministry of Defence.