Australian Department of Defense, I am pleased to announce the successful maiden flight of the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) new generation A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft (MRTT).
The flight took place in Madrid, Spain and marks the end of the first phase of modifications to install military systems into the commercial A330 aircraft.
In December 2004, we signed a contract with Spanish company European Aeronautic Defence and Space Construcciones Aeronauticas SA (EADS CASA) to provide five new generation air-to-air refuelling aircraft.
The basic Airbus A330 aircraft will have a range of military modifications installed including two underwing aerial refuelling pods, a fuselage mounted refuelling boom, military communications, data link, navigation, identification, mission planning and electronic warfare self-protection equipment.
Our new A330 MRTT, to be known as the KC-30B in RAAF service, is one of the key enabling capabilities designed to maintain Australia’s air combat capability through the transition to Joint Strike Fighter, Wedgetail and beyond. We are taking on a managed risk as lead customer to develop and test the new advanced refuelling boom system and integrated military mission systems to ensure that we have the most capable tanker aircraft in time to replace the ageing Boeing 707.
The first aircraft will be converted into the tanker in two phases by EADS CASA and the remainder of the aircraft will be converted by Qantas in Australia. In addition QANTAS will provide the through-life support for the aircraft under an initial five year contract signed in February this year.
The first flight of the aircraft following completion of structural modifications is a significant milestone and provides confidence that EADS CASA is progressing to schedule for entry into operational service of the new tankers by the end of 2009.
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