The Netherlands, Poland and Norway have decided to prepare negotiations with Airbus Defence & Space for the acquisition of a fleet of A330 MRTT multirole transport and air-to-air refuelling aircraft.
The participating nations would welcome other nations to join the initiative either before an actual procurement or subsequently.
This initiative, facilitated by the European Defence Agency, consists of the pooled acquisition and operation of a common fleet of aircraft by the three nations. Other nations will also be able to contribute to the overall programme through joining the acquisition phase and/or in-service phase. An initial operating capability is expected for 2019.
After market research supported by a targeted request for information, the three nations have identified that only one military off-the-shelf solution met their key requirements in terms of capabilities and timeframe. The nations therefore agreed to create a NATO Support Agency (NSPA) partnership which tasked the Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’ARmement (OCCAR) to prepare negotiations with Airbus Defence and Space for a possible acquisition of a fleet of A330 MRTT. This engagement in further negotiations does not constitute a commitment by EDA, NSPA, OCCAR or the Participating nations to place an order either as a result of this dialogue or at a subsequent stage.
A single configuration has been selected for this common fleet of multirole tanker transport aircraft, which should all be equipped with a rigid boom as well as underwing pods, thus allowing to refuel a large variety of receivers. They will also meet the users’ requirements in terms of passenger transport, strategic airlift, and medical evacuation. By developing synergies with similar fleets, the nations will further contribute to a reduced fragmentation and increased interoperability of air-to-air refuelling aircraft in Europe.
This decision is in accordance with the 22 March 2012 declaration of Defence Ministers to further develop European air-to-air refuelling capabilities, as well as with the letter of intent signed in November 2012 by ten nations. The December 2013 European Council also endorsed air-to-air refuelling as one of four key capability programmes to be developed by European Member States.