|A330 MRTT / KC-30A|
|A Royal Air Force Voyager during the 2011 Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford|
|First flight||15 June 2007|
|Introduction||1 June 2011|
|Primary users||Royal Australian Air Force|
Royal Air Force
United Arab Emirates Air Force
Royal Saudi Air Force
|Number built||17 as of 6 August 2013|
|Developed from||Airbus A330-200|
|Variants||EADS/Northrop Grumman KC-45|
The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is an tanker/transport aircraft based on the civilian Airbus A330-200. The A330 MRTT has been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), Royal Air Force (RAF), United Arab Emirates Air Force, and Royal Saudi Air Force. The EADS/Northrop Grumman KC-45 was a version of the A330 MRTT proposed for the United States Air Force.
Design and development
The Airbus A330 MRTT is a military derivative of the A330-200 airliner. It is designed as a dual-role air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft. For air-to-air refuelling missions the A330 MRTT can be equipped with a combination of any of the following systems:
- Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) for receptacle-equipped receiver aircraft.
- Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods for probe-equipped receiver aircraft.
- Cobham 805E Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU) for probe-equipped receiver aircraft
- Universal Aerial Refuelling Receptacle System Installation (UARRSI) for self in-flight refuelling.
The A330 MRTT has a maximum fuel capacity of 111,000 kg (245,000 lb) without the use of additional fuel tanks, which leaves space for the carriage of 45,000 kg (99,000 lb) of additional cargo. The A330 MRTT's wing has common structure with the four-engine A340-200/-300 with reinforced mounting locations and provision for fuel piping for the A340's outboard engines. The A330 MRTT's wing therefore requires little modification for use of these hardpoints for the wing refuelling pods.
The A330 MRTT cabin can be modified to carry up to 380 passengers in a single class configuration, allowing a complete range of configurations from maximised troop transport to complex customisation suitable for VIP and guest missions. The A330 MRTT can also be configured to perform Medical Evacuation (Medevac) missions; up to 130 standard stretchers can be carried. The main deck cargo configuration allows carriage of standard commercial containers and pallets, military, ISO and NATO pallets (including seats) and containers, and military equipment and other large items which are loaded through a cargo door. Like the A330-200, the A330 MRTT includes two lower deck cargo compartments (forward and aft) and a bulk area capability. The cargo hold has been modified to be able to transport up to 8 military pallets in addition to civilian Unit Load Device (ULD).
An optional crew rest compartment (CRC), located in the forward cabin can be installed for a spare crew in order to increase time available for a mission. The passenger cabin of the A330 MRTT can be provided with a set of removable airstairs to enable embarkation and disembarkation when airbridges or ground support equipment are not available.
Standard commercial A330-200s are delivered from Airbus Final Assembly Line in Toulouse (France) to Airbus Military Conversion Centre in Getafe, Spain for fitting of refuelling systems and military avionics. The tanker was certified by Spanish authorities in October 2010. It was first delivered to Australia on 1 June 2011. Qantas Defence Services converted the remaining four A330-200s at its Brisbane Airport facility on behalf of EADS for the Royal Australian Air Force.
The A330 MRTT has been ordered by Australia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Australia was the launch customer for the A330 MRTT.
The refuelling aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) will be equipped with both an Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and two Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods. The aircraft are powered by two General Electric CF6-80E engines. Australia was initially to procure four aircraft with an option to obtain a fifth. It has since decided to procure the fifth aircraft to allow for two simultaneous deployments of two aircraft, with the fifth for contingency coverage. Australia's A330 MRTT aircraft will be operated by No. 33 Squadron RAAF based at RAAF Base Amberley. Australia has designated the aircraft KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport.
Upon selecting the A330 MRTT in 2005, the RAAF expected that deliveries would begin in late 2008 and be completed in 2010. Deliveries have since been two years behind schedule, in part because of delays in the development of the boom. On 30 May 2011, KC-30A A39-003, the third converted A330, arrived at RAAF Base Amberley and was formally handed over to the RAAF on 1 June 2011. The second A330 conversion, A39-002 was ferried to RAAF Amberley on 18 June 2011 and handed over to the RAAF on 22 June 2011. In June 2010, Qantas Defence Services announced receipt of the fourth aircraft to its Brisbane facilities, with an anticipated 10-month conversion. The final fifth A330 MRTT aircraft was delivered to RAAF on 3 December 2012.
In January 2004 the UK Ministry of Defence announced that a variant of the A330 MRTT had been selected to provide tanking service for the RAF for the next 30 years under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme, replacing the RAF's existing L-1011 and VC10 tankers. The Ministry of Defence then began negotiations with the AirTanker consortium.
On 27 March 2008 the UK Ministry of Defence signed a deal to lease 14 aircraft under a private finance initiative arrangement from EADS-led consortium AirTanker, with the first aircraft to enter service in 2011. There are two versions, designated Voyager KC2 and Voyager KC3; the former will be fitted with two Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods, the latter with a Cobham 805E Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU) in addition to the under-wing pods. None of the RAF aircraft are fitted with the Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS). Both versions of Voyager are powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 engines.
As of 31 August 2013 six aircraft have been delivered. When not required to support the Royal Air Force, Voyagers are operated by AirTanker Services as certified civilian aircraft for charter flights.
United Arab Emirates
In 2007, the United Arab Emirates announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus to purchase three A330 MRTT. EADS, Airbus's parent company, announced the signing of a contract with UAE in February 2008.
The UAE aircraft will be equipped with both an ARBS and two Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods. The ARBS units installed on the these tankers include a secondary boom hoist developed for the UAE. This system permits the boom to be retracted, even in the event of a primary boom retraction system failure. The United Arab Emirates Air Force selected the Rolls-Royce Trent 700 for its tankers.
Saudi Arabia finalized an agreement to purchase three A330 MRTT equipped with both an Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and two Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods, on 3 January 2008. In July 2009 it was announced that Saudi Arabia ordered three additional A330 MRTT tankers. RSAF chose the General Electric CF6-80 to power its A330 MRTTs. As of 31 August 2013 three aircraft have been delivered. On 25 February 2013 the first A330 MRTT has been placed in operational use. Three more A330 MRTTs have been ordered in a follow-on contract. Delivery is expected in late 2014.
The Il-78 and Airbus 330 MRTT were competing for a global tender floated in 2006 by the Indian defence ministry for six refuellers to extend the operating radius of Indian fighter jets. In May 2009, India finally chose the Airbus A330 MRTT over the Il-78. However in January 2010, the government cancelled the order citing high cost as the reason, reportedly against the wishes of the Air Force. After rebidding, India selected Airbus as its "preferred vendor" in November 2012. In January 2013, it was reported that India had again selected Airbus' A330MRTT as "preferred bid".
In November 2011, France expressed interest in acquiring 14 A330 MRTTs to replace its KC-135 tankers, A340 and A310 transports.
In February 2012, Singapore also expressed interest in the A330 MRTT to replace its four KC-135s.
The U.S. Air Force (USAF) ran a procurement program to replace around 100 of their oldest KC-135E Stratotankers, i.e., initially excluding the more common updated KC-135R variant. EADS offered the A330 MRTT. The Boeing KC-767 was selected in 2002; however the USAF cancelled the KC-767 order upon the uncovering of illegal manipulation and corrupt practices during the competition.
In 2006, the USAF released a new request for proposal (RFP) for a tanker aircraft, which was updated in January 2007, to the KC-X RFP, one of three acquisition programs that are intended to replace the entire KC-135 fleet. The Airbus A330 MRTT was proposed again by EADS and Northrop Grumman as the KC-30. It again competed against the Boeing KC-767, which is a smaller aircraft (holds about 20 percent less fuel), less cargo, but is also cheaper. Northrop and EADS announced plans to assemble the aircraft at a new facility in Mobile, Alabama, which would also build A330 freighters.
The Air Force announced on 29 February 2008, that the KC-30 was chosen as the KC-135 replacement, and was designated KC-45A. On 18 June 2008, the United States Government Accountability Office upheld a protest by Boeing on the award of the contract to Northrop Grumman and EADS. This left the status of the KC-45A in doubt, requiring the Air Force to rebid the contract.
On 24 September 2009, the USAF began the first steps in the new round of bids, with a clearer set of criteria. On 8 March 2010, Northrop Grumman withdrew from the bidding process, asserting that the new criteria were skewed in favor of Boeing's offering. On April 20, 2010, EADS announced it was re-entering the competition on a stand-alone basis and intended to enter a bid with the KC-45, still intending for Mobile to be the final assembly site. On 24 February 2011, the USAF announced that the $35 billion contract had been awarded to Boeing. William J. Lynn III, the deputy defense secretary, said Boeing was “the clear winner” under a formula that considered the bid prices, how well each of the planes met war-fighting needs and what it would cost to operate them over 40 years.
- A330 MRTT
- An Airbus A330-200 converted by Airbus Military for air-refuelling duties.
- Australian designation for an A330 MRTT with two under-wing refuelling pods and an Aerial Refuelling Boom System.
- United States Air Force designation for an A330 MRTT with two under-wing refuelling pods and an Aerial Refuelling Boom System, order cancelled.
- Voyager KC2
- Royal Air Force designation for an A330 MRTT with two under-wing pods only.
- Voyager KC3
- Royal Air Force designation for an A330 MRTT with two under-wing pods and a fuselage refuelling unit.
- Royal Saudi Air Force 6 on order.
- Royal Air Force ordered a total of 14 aircraft (7 × KC2, 5 × KC3 + 2 fitted for KC3). First aircraft was delivered in 2012.
- No. 10 Squadron RAF
Accidents and incidents
On 19 January 2011, an air refuelling accident occurred between a boom equipped A330 MRTT and a Portuguese Air Force F-16 over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Spain. Early reports indicate that the boom broke off at the aft end of the boom near the F-16's receptacle which caused the boom to recoil into the underside of the A330 MRTT. The boom then became uncontrollable and oscillated until it broke off the boom assembly at the pivot point. Both aircraft were damaged, but landed safely. The A330 MRTT involved was an Airbus test aircraft destined for the RAAF; the air arm issued a statement that the aircraft was operated by an Airbus crew with no Australian personnel on board. At the time of the incident, Airbus had not begun deliveries.
On 10 September 2012 at approximately 19:30 (CEST), an A330 MRTT's refuelling boom became detached in flight at an altitude of 27000 ft in Spanish airspace. The boom separated cleanly at a mechanical joint and fell to the ground, while the aircraft landed safely in Getafe. There were no injuries caused by the malfunction. The incident was the result of a conflict between the backup boom hoist (fitted to the UAE-destined A330 MRTTs) and the primary boom retraction mechanism, and was attributable to the testing being conducted. Airbus later explained that the malfunction was not possible under ordinary operating conditions, and that procedures had been designed to avoid similar incidents in the future. Following the incident, INTA, the Spanish regulatory authority, issued precautionary restrictions to other users of boom-equipped A330s.
- Crew: 3: 2 pilots, 1 AAR operator
- Capacity: 291 passengers, and 8 military pallets + 1LD6 container + 1 LD3 container (lower deck cargo compartments)
- Length: 58.80 m (193 ft)
- Wingspan: 60.3 m (198 ft)
- Height: 17.4 m (57 ft)
- Wing area: 362 m2 (3,900 ft2)
- Empty weight: 125,000 kg (275,600 lb)
- Useful load: 45,000 kg non-fuel payload (99,000 lb)
- Max takeoff weight: 233,000 kg (514,000 lb)
- Powerplant: 2× Rolls-Royce Trent 772B or General Electric CF6-80E1A4 or Pratt & Whitney PW 4168A turbofans, 320 kN (72,000 lbf) 320 kN each
- Fuel Capability: 111,000 kg (245,000 lb) max, 65,000 kg (143,000 lb) at 1,000 nmi with 2 hours on station
- Maximum speed: 880 km/h (475 knots, 547 mph)
- Cruise speed: 860 km/h (464 knots, 534 mph)
- Range: 14,800 km (8,000 nmi, 9,200 mi)
- Service ceiling: 13,000 m (42,700 ft)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Airbus A330 MRTT.|
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