Tag Archives: A330MRTT

New European tankers one step closer

The Netherlands is ready to purchase two Airbus tanker/transport aircraft with Luxembourg, Dutch Defense minister Hennis Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert announced on Thursday 28 July.  The aircraft will be NATO property and will be stationed at Eindhoven airbase in the Netherlands for pooling and sharing. Belgium, Germany, Norway and Poland intend to join the agreement at a later date.

The purchase of the MRTT A330 type aircraft is an important step in filling the notorious European tanker gap. Compared to the US, European nations individually and combined have very limited air-to-air refuelling capabilities.

The European Defence Agency (EDA) is closely involved in the purchase of the aircraft. Luxembourg and the Netherlands will have exclusive user rights. In addition to the purchase, the MRTT project also covers maintenance and operational deployment. The Netherlands leads the multinational collaboration project.

The new aircraft will be registered in the Netherlands and stationed at Eindhoven airbase, as reported previously here at Airheadsfly.com.  A study will be carried out to determine whether European Air Transport Command, which is also stationed in Eindhoven, will be able to supervise the MRTT pool.

Costs and personnel will be allocated on the basis of the number of flying hours that each country needs. The expected life span of the fleet is 30 years and the investment budget is between €250 million EUR and 1 billion EUR.


The Netherlands and Luxembourg recorded the agreement in a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). The contract with Airbus was signed today. If Belgium, Germany, Norway and Poland decide to take part in the agreement, both the MoU and the quotation given by Airbus allow for expansion. If more countries do indeed decide to join, the design costs will be shared with these countries too, leading to lower costs for Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The number of A330 MRTT aircraft to be purchased could eventually rise to 8.


The 2 participating countries are examining the possibility of collaboration with France and the UK, among others, in relation to training and instruction as well as maintenance. France is set to receive its first A330 aircraft in 2018. The UK already has A330 MRTTs in service.

The 2 aircraft will be delivered from 2020. In the same year, the Royal Netherlands Air Force will start to gradually decommission its current two KDC-10 aircraft.

France: nine Airbus 330 MRTT tankers ordered so far

The French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) so far has officialy ordered nine of twelve desired Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft. Airbus on Tuesday 15 December reported an order for eight aircraft on top of an earlier order for one A330 MRTT. The remaining three are scheduled to be confirmed in 2018, permitting deliveries of the 12 aircraft before 2025.

A multi-year contract for 12 A330 MRTTs in several tranches was signed by the French Ministry of Defence in November 2014. The first A330 MRTT will be delivered to France in 2018, followed by the second in 2019, and the remainder at a rate of one or two per year. The aircraft replace aging KC-135 Stratotankers.

Airbus Refuelling System

Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines power the aircraft in French service. The tankers will be equipped with a combination a refueling boom system and underwing hose-and-drogue refueling pods. Cargo and passenger wise, the aircraft allow configuration to a variety of layouts carrying up to 271 passengers as well as medevac arrangements including intensive care modules carrying up to ten patients as well as 88 passengers.

A French Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker.
A French Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker that will be replaced by the new Airbusses.

The A330 MRTT has been ordered by seven nations which have now placed firm orders for 49 aircraft, of which 26 have been delivered. One of the future users is a European joint-effort by the Netherlands, Poland, Norway and lately also Germany.

More on UK Airbus MRTT operations is here.

© 2015 Airheadfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): An Australian A330 MRTT, also known as KC-30. (Image © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

First operational RAAF KC-30 refuelling of E-7

A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A (Airbus A330 MRTT) has used its air‑to‑air refuelling boom for the first time on operations while refuelling a RAAF E-7A Wedgetail (Boeing 737) last week during a Coalition mission above Iraq, the Ministry of Defence in Canberra announced on 27 October 2015.

The air-to-air boom refuelling process involved two large aircraft, military versions of the Airbus A330 and Boeing 737-700, approaching within metres of each other while in flight and transferring fuel via a manoeuvrable pipe, known as a boom, which extends back from the rear of the KC-30A. This type of refuelling involves use of the AAR boom at the rear of the aircraft, rather than the wingtip AAR drogues used to refuel smaller aircraft equipped with an AAR probe.

A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail carries out the first operational air-to-air refuellilng from a RAAF KC-30A operations above Iraq on 23 October 2015 (Image © CPL Ben Dempster /  	28SQN AFID - AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)
A Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail carries out the first operational air-to-air refuellilng from a RAAF KC-30A operations above Iraq on 23 October 2015 (Image © CPL Ben Dempster / 28SQN AFID – AMB / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

The Air Refuelling Operator was responsible for remotely manoeuvring the boom from a control panel on the KC-30A flight deck. While moving at an altitude of 25,000 feet at speeds over 400 knots the KC-30 crew transferred 34,750 pounds of fuel within 15 minutes. That’s equal to 300 family sedan cars at a rate of less than three seconds per car.

A KC-30A and an E-7A Wedgetail, along with six F/A-18A Hornet aircraft, are deployed with the Australian Air Task Group as part of Operation Okra – the Australian contribution to Operation Inherent Resolve – or air strikes against the so-called Islamic State (Daesh) forces in Iraq and Syria.

Source: Australian Government – Ministry of Defence
Featured image (top): The view from the cockpit of a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft as it approaches a RAAF KC-30 Multirole Tanker Transport aircraft in the sky over northern Iraq on 23 October 2015, during the first operational refuelling of the E-7 Awacs. Clearly visible is the extended probe of the tanker’s refuelling boom, which features the latest technology available for this difficult operation. (Image © Major Cameron Jamieson / HQJTF633 / Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)

AirTanker: Voyagers for joint European use

AirTanker, the company behind the Royal Air Force (RAF) Airbus A330 Voyager program, is currently in talks with the RAF on supporting the transport and air-to-air refueling (AAR) needs of other allied nations. This should accelerate the introduction into service of more European Airbus Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.

AirTanker provides the RAF with Voyager MRTT aircraft, including maintenance and pilot, crew and engineer training. The company now seeks to offer this service to other nations as well. Future cooperation could include shared training and expertise or the pooling and sharing of assets across NATO and Europe.

Talks were also held with the European Defence Agency (EDA), AirTanker confirms. Under an EDA-initiative, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland have set out to buy a shared fleet of four MRTT aircraft. France has also ordered the type, while countries such as the Czech Republic are desperate for added transport and AAR capabilities. The EDA pointed to a European ‘tanker gap’ years ago, and AirTanker’s recent talks are aimed at filling this gap.

“The RAF remains our core customer but we are now working with it and the MOD to explore opportunities to extract additional value from the Voyager program”, AirTanker CEO Phil Blundell said.

AirTanker’s fleet consists of twelve transport and AAR capable Voyager aircraft, the last of which was delivered to the AirTanker hub at Brize Norton airbase in the UK in June. Two more Voyager are scheduled for delivery in January and September 2016.

Nine aircraft form the core of the RAF tanker capability. The type is now almost a year into its first operational deployment, supporting fighter aircraft during their missions over Iraq and Syria. US AV-8B Harrier and French Dassault Rafales also received fuel from Voyagers.

Agreements allow for civil use of the Voyager aircraft already. One Voyager was converted to a regular Airbus A330 and delivered to Thomas Cook airlines in May 2014.

More on AirTanker’s operations should follow at Airheadsfly.com later this year.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The Voyager in action (Image © AirTanker)

South Korea opts for Airbus tankers

South Korea has opted for the Airbus A330 MRTT as the future tanker aircraft for the Republic of  Korea Air Force (ROKAF). Seoul announced the decision on Tuesday, ending a close competition between Airbus, Boeing and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). The ROKAF should welcome the first of four tanker aircraft in 2018.

The deal is worth an estimated 1.07 billion USD and supplies South Korea with its very own tanker dedicated aircraft. The tankers will act as flying gas stations for South Korea’s fleet of F-4, F-15 and F-16 fighter aircraft, plus future F-35s.

The Airbus A330 MRTT is already in service in the UK, Australia, UAE, Saudi Arabia, ordered by France, Singapore and Qatar, and being looked at by  Spain and a number of joint European forces.

The Boeing KC-46 Pegasus, based on the Boeing 767-200, is currently being developed by Boeing. The first flight with the air to air refueling boom attached took place recently, but many more tests are to take place before the KC-46 is ready to replace large numbers of KC-135s in US service.

IAI was offering a modified version of the Boeing 767. Colombia and Brazil in the past chose this Israeli option.

© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image (top): Flying gas station. (Image © Commonwealth of Australia, Department of Defence)