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Apr 3 2024

Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit achieves training with international fighter jets in the United States

EINDHOVEN, the Netherlands - For the first time, the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit (MMU) participated in the latest edition of the Red Flag exercise, a combat training exercise hosted several times a year by the United States Air Force at Nellis Air Force Base close to Las Vegas. MMU exercise participants are returning to Eindhoven this week.

Exercise Red Flag 24-2 enabled the MMU team to conduct realistic AAR training with international receivers and work with multi-domain command and control systems

The exercise – that ended in March – brought together an array of international aircraft, including F/A-18, EA-18G, F-35A and F-35B jets, for daily Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) manoeuvres above Nevada Test and Training Range, spanning an area roughly the equivalent to the Netherlands.

Preparation for the mission began long before the jets roared into action. Collaborating closely with Dutch fighter squadrons and the European Air Transport Command (EATC), the MMU's planning cells orchestrated a meticulously coordinated oceanic crossing involving eight Dutch F-35s and two A330MRTT tankers. Negotiating altitude reservations, flight plans, and diplomatic clearances, the teams navigated the complexities of international airspace while ensuring minimal disruption to civilian air traffic. Ultimately, a route via Portugal and Canada to Bangor, USA, was chosen before the final leg to Nellis Air Force Base in Las Vegas.

“Following a week of familiarisation to the exercise terrain, Red Flag 24-2 kicked off enabling the MMU team to conduct realistic AAR training with international receivers,” said the MMU Detachment Commander Major Kees van’t Riet, Royal Netherlands Air Force. “Amidst a diverse assembly of attack, fighter, and bomber aircraft, as well as electronic warfare platforms, multi-domain command and control systems and ground-based command centres from the United States and several allies, the multinational tanker unit added a unique dimension to the two-week exercise,” he added.

Impresseions from the first participation of the Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit from Eindhvoven, the Netherlands , in the US-led major fighter exercise Red Flag 24-2 at Nellis Air Force Base. Photo courtesy MMU Public Affairs Office.

Major David Reed, an US exchange pilot with the MMU, emphasized the unit's versatility in providing Air-to-Air refueling support alongside the four American KC-135 tankers. "Unlike our American counterparts limited to boom refueling, the MMU's A330MRTT is equipped with both boom and hose-and-drogue systems, facilitating seamless refueling operations for a variety of aircraft in the same mission."

“The intense nature of Red Flag placed heightened demands on the MMU's crew, particularly the air refueling operators who are tasked with orchestrating the entire process within tight time constraints. Behind the scenes, MMU technicians worked tirelessly to ensure the aircraft's readiness, conducting preventive maintenance, pre- and post-flight checks and ongoing inspections to uphold safety standards throughout the exercise,” Major van’t Riet.

“Looking ahead, beyond the valuable training opportunities for the aircrews afforded by Red Flag, the exercise helps the MMU to refine its logistical and operational capabilities in anticipation of future deployments, whether short-term or long-term, further enhancing its readiness for the challenges of tomorrow,” he concluded.

Story by Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Unit Public Affairs Office

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