On 15 May 2021, Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence François Bausch attended the departure for Mali of a contingent of the Luxembourg Army in support of a European Union Training mission. This was the first operational flight of a Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) aircraft for the Luxembourg Army and the first landing of MMF in Luxembourg.
The aircraft is owned by NATO and managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA) based in Capellen (Luxembourg) with the support of the Organization for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) on the acquisition phase. The aircraft are operated by the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU).
Four aircraft out of nine on order have already been delivered and are now performing training missions. The ninth aircraft was ordered by NSPA in September 2020 further to Luxembourg’s decision to increase its participation in the programme from 200 to 1,200 flight hours. This ninth aircraft is part of the three additional options originally included in the contract. The rest of the fleet will be delivered by the end of 2024.
The MMF will provide Luxembourg and the other five participating nations (Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, The Netherlands and Norway) with an enhanced availability to cover their requirement for air- to-air refuelling, strategic transport and medical evacuation.
The Airbus A330 MRTT departs to Mali from Findel Airport, Luxembourg, with a contingent of 13 soldiers from the Luxembourg Army.
In 2012, the European Defence Agency (EDA) started to address the long-standing European shortfall in the air-to-air refuelling capacity. Since then, this initiative has grown into a mature programme managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA), on behalf of the nations.
The Netherlands and Luxembourg initially launched the programme in July 2016, with the first as the lead nation of the project. Germany and Norway joined in 2017, Belgium followed in early 2018 and Czech Republic lastly joined the MMF programme in October 2019.
The MMF aircraft is operated by the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) comprising of military personnel from the participating countries. The unit is based in two permanent operating bases, the Main Operating Base in Eindhoven and the Forward Operating Base in Cologne-Wahn (Germany). Of the nine MMF aircraft, five will be based in Eindhoven, and four in Cologne.