The NATO tanker fleet is now officially deployable anywhere in the world with the Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Unit stationed at Eindhoven Air Base in the Netherlands.
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The Airbus A330 tanker refuelling network has six participating countries for air-to-air refuelling of fighter jets, personnel transport, cargo, and medical evacuations.
The project was launched by Luxembourg and the Netherlands in 2016, and was joined by Belgium, Germany, Norway, and the Czech Republic.
MMRT celebrated the addition of a 10th aircraft from Belgium, the upcoming arrival of its ninth aircraft later this year, and the unit reaching initial operational capability status on 23 March. The ceremony was attended by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and EU Commissioner for internal market, Thierry Breton.
The Netherlands Chief of Defence, General Onno Eichelsheim, said the unit had proven that it is so much more than merely a flying petrol station in the fall of Kabul in August 2021.
Aircraft had made several flights transporting Afghan citizens from the capital city of Pakistan, Islamabad, to safe locations in Europe, the chief of defence said.
MMRT has already been used to refuel fighter jets protecting NATO territory over Poland following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. MMRT has already expended 6 million litres of fuel, financed by the participating countries with partners bearing responsibility for the acquisition, management, operations, and support of the fleet.