Belgium joined Wednesday a NATO and EU joint program that aims, under the direction of the Netherlands, to equip five European countries — and perhaps more later —with a fleet of tanker aircraft, which is among what lacks the most in European armed forces. Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput signed, with his colleagues from the Netherlands, Germany, Norway, and the Luxembourg Ambassador, a framework agreement, MOU (Memorandum of Understanding), with NATO, which formalizes the Belgian desire to participate in a multinational unit equipped with at least eight Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport): the MRTT Multinational Unit (MMU).
Belgium’s contribution, which the Federal government agreed upon on 22 December, will allow the purchase of aircraft to be attached to this fleet, for an amount of 258 million euros, and will guarantee Belgium an annual quota of 1,000 flight hours.
The first aircraft will be delivered as of 2020. Belgium will then have immediate access to this in-flight refueling capacity, even though the ordered aircraft will not be delivered until 2024, affirms Mr. Vandeput.
Five of the aircraft will be positioned on the main base, situated in Eindhoven (south of the Netherlands), while the other three will be positioned on an advanced base, at the Cologne airport, indicated the Dutch Defense Minister, Ank Bijleveld, during the signing ceremony at the NATO headquarters in Brussels.