OCCAR and the Nato Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) have signed a revised cooperation agreement for the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) programme.

Initiated by the European Defence Agency (EDA) in 2012, the MMF project is designed to provide additional tanker and transport aircraft capability in Europe.

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The programme will give participating nations the exclusive right to operate these Nato-owned aircraft in a pooling arrangement. The Netherlands and Luxembourg launched the MMF programme in July 2016.

These countries were later joined by Germany, Norway and Belgium.

Based on the Airbus A330-200, the Nato aircraft will be used for air-to-air refuelling, transport of passengers and cargo, and medical evacuations.

OCCAR is Europe’s organisation for the management of cooperative armament programmes. It is responsible for the management of the MMF programme’s acquisition phase as contract executing agent on behalf of NSPA.

Once the acquisition phase is completed, NSPA will take care of the complete lifecycle management of the fleet.

The cooperation agreement between NSPA and OCCAR was originally signed in 2014.

The revised agreement was necessitated by more countries joining the MMF programme, OCCAR noted.

In March last year, OCCAR signed a contract with Airbus for the procurement of an Airbus A330 MRTT multi-role tanker transport aircraft after Belgium’s official accession to the programme in the previous month.

“Cooperation between the two organisations is resulting in a success story that will help mitigate one of Europe’s critical capability shortfalls.”

The contract brought the total number of aircraft ordered to eight. It also included options for three optional aircraft to accommodate other countries that could be interested to join.

In a statement, OCCAR said: “Through this revised cooperation agreement, NSPA will acquire eight multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft and will carry out the mission and tasks stipulated by its governing body, the Nato Support and Procurement Organisation.”

OCCAR will continue in its role as the contract-executing agent for the MMF programme.

The organisation added: “This cooperation between the two organisations is resulting in a success story that will help mitigate one of Europe’s critical capability shortfalls.”

The MRTT aircraft can also serve as a pure transport aircraft capable of carrying up to 267 troops, or a payload of up to 45t.

Airbus is expected to deliver the first aircraft in mid-2020.