A330 Tankers Summarized

Dubai Air Show » 2013
November 16, 2013, 5:45 PM

Four air forces have opted for the A330MRTT to date, and Airbus Military is marketing the tanker worldwide. Current prospects include Brazil, France, India Korea and Singapore. But the big prize of a U.S. Air Force contract eluded the European manufacturer, which lost out to Boeing after two controversial, hotly fought competitions.

The Voyager version for the RAF described in this article can refuel only probe-equipped aircraft. Seven of the Voyagers are equipped with a Cobham 805E centerline fuselage refueling unit (FRU) in the rear lower fuselage, making them three-point tankers; all 14 can carry a Cobham 905E refueling pod under each wing.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) was the launch customer for the A330MRTT, with an order for five. Its aircraft have the wing refueling pods, plus a refueling boom instead of an FRU. The Airbus-designed boom has encountered development problems, and the RAAF has not yet qualified it for service. The RAAF uses the designation KC-30A for the aircraft.

The Royal Saudi Air Force (six on order) and the UAE Air Force (three) have both received their first A330MRTTs. They also have the aerial boom refueling system (ARBS) as well as the drogue-equipped wing pods.

The Australian, Saudi and UAE aircraft all have an aerial refueling receptacle above the forward fuselage, allowing the A330MRTT itself to be refueled from other aerial tankers.

The Australian and Saudi aircraft are powered by two GE CF6-80E1 turbofans whereas the British and UAE aircraft have Rolls-Royce Trent 700s.

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