Airbus Defence and Space has confirmed an anticipated order from the Republic of Singapore Air Force for six A330 MRTT tanker/transports. The selection of the Airbus rather than the Boeing KC-46A was first revealed on March 6 via the Singaporean ministry of defense’s Twitter account. At the same time, the country's Ministry of Defense also confirmed that it is to order two more Sikorsky S-70B Seahawk maritime helicopters for the naval air arm’s 123 Squadron, raising the total number to eight.
India has also selected the A330 MRTT, but contract finalization has been held up. While Airbus D&S has been waiting on an Indian signature, the team has forged ahead with finalizing the contract with Singapore to make it the fifth customer for the Airbus tanker. “We are greatly honored by the selection of the A330 MRTT by Singapore,” commented Domingo Ureña Raso, the company’s head of military aircraft. “The decision confirms the A330 MRTT’s status as unquestionably the world’s most advanced tanker/transport aircraft, as well as its pre-eminent suitability for the Asia-Pacific region.”
Singapore currently operates four ex-U.S. Air Force Boeing KC-135R tankers with 112 Squadron at Changi-West, the first of which was delivered in September 1999. They have been heavily used, including deployments to the Gulf region in association with Singapore’s coalition peacekeeping commitments. The KC-135s are augmented by the drogue-equipped KC-130 Hercules of 122 Squadron at Paya Lebar, which are used for refueling F-5 fighters.
A formal program to replace the aging KC-135Rs began in 2011, with an RFI following in early 2012. The new A330s will be used not only to refuel Republic of Singapore Air Force aircraft during operations and deployments but can also be used for global transport missions. The aircraft will be particularly useful in supporting Singapore’s training detachments, which are located as far afield as Australia, France and the U.S.