Nov 25, 2014

Europe formally kick-starts tanker procurement project

Europe has formally begun the acquisition process for a new aerial refuelling capability under the Multinational MultiRole Tanker Transport (MRTT) Fleet (MMF) project.
With the European Defence Agency having already harmonised requirements, a co-operation agreement was signed between the NATO Support Organisation and the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) to launch the acquisition phase of the MRTT MMF project on the same day as the announcement.
According to OCCAR, this agreement sets the framework and conditions under which it will manage the acquisition phase of the aircraft on behalf of NATO. The project will be led by the Netherlands, with Norway also participating. Both nations have established a support partnership within the NATO Support Organisation (NSPO), which will oversee the acquisition and operational sustainment of the MRTT MMF aircraft.
Although not mentioned in this announcement, Belgium and Poland are expected to join the project also. Airbus Defence and Space is likely to contest the requirement with its A330-200 MRTT platform, as is Boeing with its KC-46A Pegasus. Service providers AirTanker and Omega Air have also expressed an interest in bidding. A downselect is expected before the end of the year, with a contract award due before the end of 2015. Initial operating capability is scheduled for 2019.

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