The Nato Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) and its partners have established the multilateral multi-role tanker transporter (MRTT) fleet (MMF) unit.

MMF Executive Board (MEB) chairman navy commodore Dick Kreiter handed over command of the multinational MRTT unit (MMU) to Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF) colonel Jurgen van der Biezen during a ceremony at Eindhoven airbase in the Netherlands.

Colonel van de Biezen becomes the first MMU commander.

The airbase will function as the future main operating base for the MMF.

The ceremony was attended by members of the MEB, the MMF support partnership committee, national representatives of the MMF programme countries, Airbus, OCCAR, European Defence Agency (EDA), and NSPA.

NSPA noted that the MMU will look after the preparations for the arrival of the first MRTT aircraft on 1 May 2020.

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The unit will be supported in its efforts by NSPA and OCCAR.

Kreiter said: “The MMF is a success story that runs on time, within budget and scope. This is achieved by sticking to the philosophy of one lead-nation, one lead-industry and one configuration, but of course mainly due to the belief and perseverance of the excellent men and women involved in the programme.”

The MMF project was initiated by EDA in 2012 for additional tanker and transport aircraft capability in Europe.

Initially launched by the Netherlands and Luxembourg in July 2016, the programme is designed to procure aircraft for air-to-air refuelling, transport of passengers and cargo and medical evacuations. Germany, Norway, and Belgium later joined the MMF programme.

Based on the Airbus A330-200, the aircraft will be owned by Nato. The participating nations will operate the MRTT aircraft in a pooling arrangement.

Under a contract signed in 2016, Airbus will supply eight aircraft. The contract also includes options for up to 3 additional aircraft.

Last month, France signed an agreement with the MMF member countries for cooperation on the project.