NATO fleets test air-to-air refueling assets

Story by NATO Support and Procurement Agency

The Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) and the NATO E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet have concluded their Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) test campaign. The in-flight tests performed will provide the technical and operational AAR clearances to certify the NATO AWACS to execute air-to-air refueling missions from an MMF aircraft.

“This is an important milestone for the Alliance and a great collaboration effort across many organisations. For the first time, both the receiver and tanker are NATO-owned assets. Once we obtain the certification, the MRTT will be able to conduct aerial refueling operations with the AWACS, extending the reach of the ‘NATO’s Eyes in the Sky’ missions,” said Jan Der Kinderen, NSPA MMF System Manager.

The Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) and the NATO E-3A Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) fleet have concluded their Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) test campaign. The in-flight tests performed will provide the technical and operational AAR clearances to certify the NATO AWACS to execute air-to-air refueling missions from an MMF aircraft.
Photo: NATO.

The Allied E-3A aircraft is the first heavy receiver pairing up with NATO’s MRTT. The campaign is led by the Royal Netherlands Air Force Test Organisation, with active participation of the United States Air Force, which supports the AWACS unit with experimental test pilots.

Air-to-air refueling is a critical capability for NATO forces in operations that require long-range air missions. The MRTT’s 111 tons basic fuel capacity enables the aircraft to excel in air-to-air refueling missions, eliminating the requirement for additional fuel tanks.

Upon successful completion of the tests, and once the certification is received from the respective Military Airworthiness Authorities, the MMF fleet will be able to refuel both NATO AWACS E-3A’s and the USAF E-3G’s, thus enhancing overall NATO’s operational capability.

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