First Airbus Military A330 MRTT for RAF displays its three-point refuelling capability

First Airbus Military A330 MRTT for the Royal Air Force displays its three-point refuelling capability / © Airbus Military

First Airbus Military A330 MRTT for the Royal Air Force displays its three-point refuelling capability / © Airbus Military

Posted By Philip Stevens

The first A330 MRTT Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) for the UK Royal Air Force is here captured with both its underwing pods and fuselage refuelling unit (FRU) deployed simultaneously. The photo was taken from a Spanish Air Force F-18 during a recent handling qualities flight as the FSTA nears civil and military certification.

Two FSTAs are currently flying and the first is on schedule to transfer to the UK in the second quarter of the year to begin qualification flights with the specified receiver aircraft types, leading to first delivery towards the end of the year.

The A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) is based on the successful A330-200, a medium-to long range, twin aisle, twin engine, commercial aircraft of the Airbus family. Its design combines the proven fly-by-wire control system and advanced avionics with the most up to-date manufacturing techniques enabling the lowest operating costs.

The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven AAR systems including:

An advanced Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) for receptacle-equipped receivers such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon or the A330 MRTT itself (when equipped with a receptacle). The Airbus Military ARBS is the only new generation boom which allows the fastest fuel transfer (4600 litres/min/1200 US gal), hereby greatly reducing the refuelling operation time.

Two Cobham 905E under-wing hose and drogue pods to simultaneously refuel two probe-equipped receivers such as Eurofighters.

A Cobham 805E hose and drogue centre Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU) to refuel large military aircraft such as the A400M.

A Universal Aerial Refuelling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI) receptacle to be refuelled by another tanker.

These AAR systems are controlled from a state-of-the-art Air Refuelling Console integrated in the cockpit.

In a deployment mission, the A330 MRTT enables four Eurofighters, to fly 3600 nm by refuelling them en-route, or, when carrying 20 tonnes of payload, to fly these four fighters a distance of 2800 nm.

The A330 MRTT can also be used on towline mission, whereby it can be on station at about 1000 nm from its base for some 4 hours 30 minutes, with the capability to provide 50 tonnes of fuel for needing receivers. Or to provide 60 tonnes of fuel while remaining on station for 5 hours at 500 nm from base. This exceeds by far what any other current tanker can offer.

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Source: Airbus Military Press Office

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