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Rising demand for NATO's aerial tanker fleet puts capacity under pressure

8th February 2023 - 15:00 GMT | by Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo in Cologne


A NATO A330 MRTT refuels German Air Force Typhoons during a sortie on 6 February. (Photo: author)

More NATO nations beyond the current six participants have held talks about joining the alliance's Europe-based multinational tanker unit, but this raises questions over funding more aircraft and ground infrastructure.

The Multinational MRTT Unit (MMU), which operates the nine Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft owned by NATO, could expand to include new member countries including Canada, Italy and Spain,  but such an expansion creates a number of complexities.

Currently, the MMU serves six NATO nations, each sharing the costs of the MRTT programme proportionally to their use of its assets. During a presentation at one of its forward operating bases (FOBs) in Cologne on 6 February, an MMU spokesperson said that for 2023 the approximate number of flight hours available was 2,800, of which 800 will be reserved for training. 

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Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo


Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo

Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a freelance security and defense reporter based in Milan, Italy. She covers …

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