ARLINGTON, VA: The A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT), an Airbus Military program, has performed the first simultaneous fuel transfer with its all-digital hose-and-drogue system, fueling two fighter aircraft at the same time.
The hose-and-drogue fuel transfers occurred on November 18 during a flight test sortie that utilized both the A330 MRTT’s left and right under-wing pods. In total, the A330 MRTT conducted 11 simultaneous airborne refueling contacts with two NATO F/A-18 fighters and transferred more than 25,000 lbs of fuel.
The latest refueling milestone was performed by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) A330 MRTT, and follows recent daytime and nighttime refueling operations utilizing the aircraft’s advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS), as well as previous fuel transfers using the wing-mounted hose-and-drogue refueling systems. As a result, both refueling systems on the A330 MRTT have now been demonstrated through flight tests, confirming the aircraft’s maturity in preparation for the startup of deliveries to international customers beginning in 2010.
“Operational flexibility and demonstrated robust mission capability are essential requirements for a military refueling aircraft,” said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., Chairman of EADS North America. “This latest program success is further evidence that the A330 MRTT is ready to meet the demanding operational requirements of next-generation military tankers, including those of the U.S. Air Force as part of the Northrop Grumman KC-45 team.”
The A330 MRTT’s all-digital 905E refueling pods are the most modern in service today, with the capability to deliver up to 420 gallons of fuel per minute. Their 90-foot hoses are designed to accommodate probe-equipped military receiver aircraft at refueling speeds of 180 to 325 knots. The refueling process is controlled from a state-of-the-art Remote Aerial Refueling Operator (RARO) station located on the A330 MRTT’s flight deck behind the pilots, which also is utilized for refueling operations with the ARBS.
The RAAF A330 MRTT is nearly identical in configuration to the Northrop Grumman KC-45 Tanker, and uses the same refueling systems. As with the KC-45, Australia’s A330 MRTT incorporates the Airbus Military state-of-the-art ARBS with all-electric, fly-by-wire controls, plus the two digital hose-and-drogue pods under the wings. The ARBS can deliver fuel at 1,200 U.S. gallons per minute, a key requirement for the U.S. Air Force’s tanker.
This mix of boom and pod refueling technologies ensures the A330 MRTT and KC-45 can rapidly and safely transfer fuel to all types of receiver aircraft during a single mission without reconfiguration. In addition, the wing-mounted pods allow for simultaneous multi-point refueling. The KC-45 also will include a centerline hose-and-drogue fuselage refueling unit.
The A330 MRTT is the next-generation tanker of choice for NATO and allied forces worldwide. All recent competitions for next-generation aerial refueling aircraft have been won by the A330 MRTT — with selections made by the air forces of Australia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A total of 28 A330 MRTTs have been ordered to date.
The first of Australia’s five A330 MRTTs on order will be delivered in mid-2010. Conversion is complete for the country’s first two aircraft, and the process is ongoing for a third at Qantas Aviation Services in Australia.
A total of five A330 MRTT aircraft currently are in the conversion and flight test process by Airbus Military: the three for Australia, plus two for the United Kingdom — underscoring the company’s ability to build, outfit and deliver the next-generation tanker at sustained rates from multiple production sites. In addition, the first A330 MRTT for the Saudi Royal Air Force arrived on Nov. 10th for the start of its conversion and mission equipment outfitting.
EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.