The fourth Airbus Military A330 MRTT multi-role tanker transport for the Royal Australian Air Force has been formally handed over to the service, leaving just one aircraft of its order still to be delivered.
Known as the KC-30A in RAAF operation, this particular aircraft is the only one for the RAAF to have been converted from the basic A330 in Madrid, the others having been converted by Qantas Defence Services in Brisbane, Australia. It took part in the A330 MRTT development program and has been extensively renovated prior to delivery in Madrid.
Following the handover the aircraft will remain in Spain for continued test work and will be transferred to RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland later in the year. The fifth and final aircraft will be delivered in the third quarter of the year.
The A330 MRTT recently underwent successful refueling trials in Australia with a RAAF F/A-18 fighter and earlier this month was displayed by the RAAF at the LIMA Airshow in Malaysia.
It is the world’s most advanced air-to-air tanker and the only certified and flying new generation tanker/transport aircraft in existence. It will substantially increase the aerial refueling and logistical capabilities of the RAAF.
In RAAF service, the aircraft are equipped with two underwing refueling pods, the fly-by-wire Airbus Military Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS), and a Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI) enabling it to be refueled from another tanker. Powered by two General Electric CF6-80E engines, the aircraft are equipped with a comprehensive defensive aids suite (DAS) and fitted with 270 passenger seats.
Having received its supplemental type certificate from European civil certification Authority EASA in March 2010 and military certification from Spanish Authority INTA in October 2010, the Airbus Military A330 MRTT is the only new generation strategic tanker/transport aircraft flying and available today.
The large 111 tonnes / 245,000 lb basic fuel capacity of the successful A330-200 airliner, from which it is derived enables the A330 MRTT to excel in air-to-air refueling missions without the need for any additional fuel tank. The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven air-to-air refueling systems including an advanced Airbus Military Aerial Refueling Boom System, and/or a pair of under-wing hose and drogue pods, and/or a Fuselage Refueling Unit.
Thanks to its true wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry 300 troops, or a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC).
To date, a total of 28 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by four customers (Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom), with Saudi Arabia having already placed a repeat order.