COLOGNE, GERMANY – NATO Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft are participating in NATO Exercise Cold Response 22, refueling NATO fighter jets in the skies over Norway. Participating fighter jets in the exercise are Norwegian F-35s, Swedish JAS 39 Gripens, U.S. Air Force F-15s, U.S. Navy F-18s and U.S. Marine Corps AV-8Bs. Long-planned NATO exercise Cold Response 22 ensures NATO Allies are capable of carrying out complex joint operations in the harshest of environments.
“Air-to-air refuelling is a big enhancer, so that gives the receiving units either the opportunity to have more load out with them or to extend their mission duration. And of course, if you’re air policing that takes some time, and then if they want to extend their station time to the max extent and then therefore they’ll need the tankers,” said Lt. Col. Christian K. – Chief Pilot of the Multinational Multirol Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) Forward Operating Base in Cologne, Germany.
“There are multiple other NATO exercises which are conducted year by year. So it’s just a regular training environment that we are participating in right now and this is not in relation to any conflict in the world. So we are somewhere in an area supporting any air-to-air assets which require fuel that might be, today in Norwegian for Cold Response. The next day, it might be air policing in the Baltics, where we also conduct air-to-air refuelling with the assets to support these kinds of missions,” Lt. Col. Christian K. added.
“My job is to provide the receivers with fuel. There are two possible ways to provide the receivers with fuel on this aircraft. We have the hose and drogue system underneath the wing and we have the boom underneath the tail,” Air-To-Air Refueling Operator WO Koen L. said.
“Today’s mission, we provide support for the Cold Response exercise. Together with our Allied partners, we’re doing this exercise to maintain our level of proficiency and to improve our skills. It’s a multinational exercise. We as MRTT are a multinational unit as well. Today we had a couple of F-35 receivers, and the job was to give them fuel for their mission in the theatre,” WO Koen L. added.
Air-to-air refuelling is an important capability to help advanced air forces to operate longer in the air. NATO’s Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) flies these Multirole Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft to set up flying gas stations in Exercise Cold Response.
The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft is an aerial refueling tanker aircraft based on the civilian A330-200 airliner. It’s designed as a dual-role air-to-air refueling and transport aircraft. A total of 13 nations have placed firm orders for the tanker aircraft, including Australia, France, Spain, United Kingdom, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea and Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) members Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, and Norway.
A version of the A330 MRTT, the EADS/Northrop Grumman KC-45, was proposed to the U.S. Air Force for its aerial tanker replacement programme and selected, but the programme was cancelled.
Head image: still image of NATO video.
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