Eyeing regional requirements, including here in Singapore, Airbus Military has brought an A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) to the show. It is one of 14 destined for the UK Royal Air Force’s future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA) fleet. A total of 28 MRTTs have been ordered by four countries. Airbus Military has now delivered four of the five ordered by Australia; first acceptances by the UK, the Royal Saudi Air Force (six on order) and the UAE Air Force (three on order) are in process.
But the big prize–a U.S. Air Force order for 175 tankers–eluded the European manufacturer. Speaking here yesterday, Airbus Military head of defense capability marketing Ian Elliott described the winning KC-46A entrant as “smaller and much more basic” than the A330MRTT. “Let’s see if Boeing can deliver on time and budget,” he added.
Singapore may not be in any hurry to replace its four KC-135Rs, and that could suit Boeing. Joe Song, vice president, Asia Pacific business, told AIN that Boeing is very focused on delivering the first KC-46A to the U.S. Air Force in 2017. “We can offer Singapore a roadmap to keep their KC-135s viable until we can eventually offer the KC-46,” he told AIN.