IOC for NATO's MMF plus fleet expansion
On 23 March 2023, NATO's multinational Multi-role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Fleet (MMF) was declared Initial Operational Capable (IOC) during a ceremony attended by Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren, NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the European Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton.
Normally IOC status means that a unit can accept operational missions but in the case of the MRTT the international events from the past few years, Kabul airlift in 2021 and the AAR requirements for NATO missions at its eastern flank, already proved the unit's readiness. Full Operational Capable status is expected at some point in 2024.
On top of this milestone it was also announced that Belgium has invested an extra 265 million euros in the programme which is the equivalent price of an Airbus A330MRTT. This brings the total number of aircraft to ten of which two are funded by Belgium. This expansion will allow Belgium to claim 2,100 flight hours annually by 2027.
Currently seven A330MRTT tanker aircraft have been delivered and it is expected that during 2024 the original number of nine active aircraft should have been reached. It is as of yet unknown when the tenth member of the fleet could be expected.
Photo by Kev Daws (Scramble Archive)