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Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT)

A market leader in its class, the A330-200 is the most modern platform available for air-to-air refuelling, providing greater interoperability and force projection by taking more fighter aircraft further than existing or alternative aircraft. Without compromising its refuelling capability, the A330-200 can also carry greater troop and cargo loads on military and humanitarian missions. Its airframe is derived from the popular A330 jetliner produced by EADS' Airbus Division, of which more than 880 have been ordered worldwide in passenger and freighter configurations. The Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTAD) is responsible within the EADS Group for all military derivative programmes based on Airbus platforms, including tankers.

Following its purchase by the Royal Australian Air Force, the MRTT solution was officially ordered by the Royal Saudi Air Force and the UAE Air Force, as well as selected by the Royal Air Force of the UK.

France - Phenix

Contract negotiations with France were advancing as of late 2004. On 20 November 2014 Airbus Defence and Space was selected by the French Ministry of Defence to supply 12 A330 MRTT new generation air-to-air refuelling aircraft for the French Air Force, to be called "Phnix" in French service. The first delivery was foreseen for 2018, followed by the second in 2019, and then at a rate of one or two per year. France currently relied on 14 C-135s for its aerial refueling. The contract agreed between the French procurement agency, la Direction Generale de lArmement (DGA), and Airbus Defence and Space was ready for official award. The contract covers the development and qualification of the specific French configuration as well as the associated support and training systems, such as spares, ground support equipment, training devices and five years of in-service support from first delivery.

Frances choice of the A330 MRTT made it the sixth nation to order the type following Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom which have ordered a total of 34 aircraft. In addition, India and Qatar had selected the MRTT and are in the final stages of contractual negotiations for six and two aircraft respectively. A total of 22 aircraft were currently in service and the aircraft has been battle-proven in recent coalition actions. The A330 MRTT had won every major tanker aircraft procurement competition outside the USA since it has entered the market.

On 15 December 2015 Airbus Defence and Space received a firm order from the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) for a further eight A330 MRTT Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft. The combat-proven A330 MRTT had been ordered by seven nations which had now placed firm orders for 49 aircraft, of which 26 have been delivered. The aircraft constitute the second tranche of the multi-year contract for 12 A330 MRTTs signed by the French Ministry of Defence in November 2014 and bring the total firm order to nine. The remaining three are scheduled to be confirmed in 2018, permitting deliveries of the 12 aircraft before 2025.

The first A330 MRTT will be delivered to France in 2018, followed by the second in 2019, and the remainder at a rate of one or two per year. In French service the A330 MRTT will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and equipped with a combination of the Airbus Refuelling Boom System and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods. It will also be possible to configure them in a variety of layouts carrying up to 271 passengers as well as medevac arrangements including the French MORPHEE intensive care module carrying up to ten patients as well as 88 passengers.

UK - Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA)

On 26 January 2004 the UK government announced the start of exclusive negotiations to make the Airbus A330-200 its Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA). The A330-200 FSTA will provide the RAF with outstanding flexibility, reliability and cost efficiency. Its modern and aerodynamically advanced wing carries 111 tonnes of fuel without the need for auxiliary fuel tanks, enabling it to refuel more receiver aircraft than existing and competing tankers.

Thanks to its true wide-body cabin, the A330-200 FSTA will be able to provide its full passenger and cargo capability while it is configured for air-refuelling operations. In a comfortable one class configuration it can accommodate almost 300 service personnel and carry a full range of cargo containers, including military pallets in both the forward and rear cargo compartments.

This decision underlined the capability and efficiency of Airbus aircraft for military as well as civil roles, as already demonstrated with the A400M and the converted A310 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. Airbus aircraft can satisfy the need of many of the world's air forces and will eventually become the market reference in the military transport field, just as Airbus aircraft are already the reference for commercial airlines. To date nearly 1,400 aircraft were used for special military missions, such as transport, air-to-air refuelling, AWACS or maritime patrol. Many of them will have to be replaced in the near future. Airbus' extensive and most modern aircraft family will provide efficient platforms for many of these requirements.

The announcement in favor of the A330-200 for the RAF through a private finance initiative (PFI) is a strong acknowledgement of the aircraft's potential to generate third party revenue. More than 460 A330s have been ordered by 60 airlines across the globe, and it was recognised as the most efficient and economic twin-engine aircraft ever built.

The A330 MRTT, based on the Airbus A330 long-range passenger aircraft, is a product offered by the Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTAD) of EADS, which also played a significant role in the design of the A310 MRTT modifications. The A330 MRTT complements the A310 MRTT as a solution for customers requiring greater payload, range and endurance.

Australia - KC-30B

Australia picked EADS and its A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) over Boeing Co's 767 tanker in 2004, ordering five aircraft to perform both refuelling and transport roles. Australia's Defence Minister Robert Hill said the government had selected the EADS A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport Aircraft to replace the RAAF's Boeing 707 aircraft in a project worth approximately $2 billion."The five new aircraft will be capable of refuelling F/A-18, F-111, Airborne Early Warning and Control and Joint Strike Fighter aircraft," Senator Hill said.

"They will also have a significant strategic air lift capacity when not engaged in aerial refuelling tasks, including the ability to carry 293 passengers and a significant amount of cargo."The A330 MRTT is derived from the Airbus A330 and will be equipped with flying boom air-to-air refuelling technology (ARBS) currently under development by EADS.

Qantas Defence Services will also conduct through life support of the aircraft in Australia."With our A330 MRTT we have succeeded twice after tough competition in only three months," commented EADS CEOs Philippe Camus and Rainer Hertrich."The decisions by the RAF in Britain and the Australian Defence Forces in favour of our proposal are a clear proof that the A330 MRTT is the ideal platform for next generation tanker aircraft with both a flying boom and hose and drogue air refuelling technology," they added.

In November 2008 European defense firm EADS expected delivery of its first refuelling tanker to Australia to be delayed, but said work on the next four aircraft was on track and proceeding well. The delivery schedule for the first MTRTT had been adjusted due to a joint decision with Australia to participate in the 2007 Paris Air Show, modifications to the refuelling and avionics systems; and additional flight testing to ensure that a more robust mission system.


On February 22, 2007 - EADS' A330 Multi-role Tanker/Transport (MRTT) won its third international competition with the United Arab Emirates' downselect of the aircraft to meet aerial refueling requirements of the country's air force and air defense. This decision further consolidated the A330 MRTT's position as an advanced and capable air-to-air refueling aircraft. It followed the Royal Australian Air Force's contract for five A330 MRTTs (designated the KC-30B), as well as the United Kingdom's A330 MRTT selection as the preferred solution for its Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) requirement.

The United Arab Emirates' (UAE) expected order will be for three A330 MRTT aircraft, with deliveries beginning in 2011. UAE's A330 MRTTs will be equipped with EADS' centerline-mounted advanced Air Refueling Boom System (ARBS), along with a pair of underwing hose and drogue refueling pods. This arrangement is similar to that specified for the Royal Australian Air Force's refueling aircraft, and it also is being proposed for the Northrop Grumman KC-30 tanker offered in the U.S. Air Force's recapitalization of its aging KC-135 tanker fleet.

Saudi Arabia

On 03 January 2008 the Saudi MODA decided the acquisition of the A330 MRTT as the new air-to-air refuelling aircraft for its Royal Saudi Air Force as a result of the competition process started in early 2006. Following the contract signed with the Royal Australian Air Force, and after being nominated preferred bidder for the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) in the UK and selected by the UAE Air Force and Air Defence, the Saudi decision consolidated the A330 MRTT position as an advanced and capable air to air refuelling aircraft. EADS CASA, responsible for the design and production of the MRTTs, is positioned as a key worldwide supplier in the field of tanking and transport aircraft.

This order is for three (3) aircraft, equipped with under-wing pods and the EADS CASA Advanced Refuelling Boom System. "The acquisition of this EADS CASA product by this important customer proves again our capabilities in the field of air-to-air refuelling. This is a step forward in the consolidation of EADS as a benchmark for state-of-the-art air refuelling systems", said Carlos Surez, Chairman of EADS CASA and Head of Military Transport Aircraft Division of EADS.

USA - KC-45

The 29 February 2008 selection of the Northrop Grumman KC-30 Tanker by the U.S. Air Force, a system based on EADS' A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) and designated by the USAF as the KC-45A, would significantly increase EADS' industrial presence and commitment in the United States, as well as its role as a U.S.-based defence and homeland security provider. EADS North America is the partner to Northrop Grumman on the new tanker, with responsibility for assembling airframes and providing completed flight-qualified aircraft and refuelling sub-systems.

The KC-45A Tanker is based on the EADS A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport). This latest success in a series of competitions worldwide confirmed the EADS-based military tanker as a competitive solution available on the market. Selection of the KC-45A Tanker was announced by the U.S. Air Force, culminating a multi-year evaluation. The programme award calls for 179 aircraft with an estimated contract value of US$ 40 billion. The initial KC-45A contract for Northrop Grumman covers four System Design and Development aircraft and is valued at US$ 1.5 billion.

Production of KC-45A airframes would be performed at Airbus' new Mobile, Alabama aerospace centre of excellence which houses the Airbus KC-45A final assembly facility. In addition the final assembly of Airbus A330 civilian freighters will be performed there, providing a robust final assembly line to ensure low risk, high efficiency and increased capacity for both the U.S. Air Force and commercial Airbus customers.

U.S. government auditors upheld a Boeing protest in June 2008. The Pentagon decided in September 2008 to cancel the competition, and let the new U.S. administration decide how to proceed.

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