Industry News


Posted on Aug 21, 2015

June 2015 – Airbus Defence and Space A330 MRTT takes leadership role in the tanking world

The Airbus A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport Aircraft is the only new generation tanker/transport flying, and certified today, and is battle-proven in recent coalition operations.

In service with the air forces of Australia, UAE, Saudi Arabia and UK, the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) provides military strategic air transport as well as air-to-air refuelling capabilities. It is based on the latest medium to long range, twin-aisle, commercial aircraft of the Airbus fly-by-wire family, the A330. More than 1,400 of these have been sold to some 100 customers and some 1,100 are operated all around the globe, ensuring easy support and many years of commercial life ahead.

The civil version from which the A330 MRTT is derived, the A330-200, already benefits from the most up-to-date design and manufacturing techniques, and integrates the most advanced avionics as well as proven fly-by-wire control systems which allow total flight envelope protection. Representing the state-of-the-art in its category, the A330-200 has a maximum range of 8,000 nm/ 14,800 km, with a maximum speed of Mach 0.86. It is the primary choice as a platform for a tanker/transport, offering the best performance at the lowest investment and costs, and has won every major competition outside the USA since launch.

Critically, the A330-200 wing is large enough to hold all the fuel needed in the tanking role without requiring any additional fuel tanks and so avoiding any reduction in its ability to carry passengers or cargo.

For air-to-air refuelling missions, the A330 MRTT is provided with the advanced Airbus Defence and Space Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), to refuel receptacle-equipped aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-35A Lightning II, or even the A330 MRTT itself (when fitted with an UARRSI). The Airbus Military ARBS is the only new generation boom in service, permitting the fastest fuel transfer rate and greatly reducing the refuelling operation time. Refuelling can be performed at any altitude up to 35,000 ft while cruising at speeds between 180 kt and 300 kt.

To refuel probe-equipped receivers such as Eurofighter, Tornado, Mirage and Sukhoi models, the A330 MRTT is fitted with two Cobham 905E under-wing hose and drogue pods. All the AAR (Air to Air Refuelling) systems are controlled from an advanced Fuel Operator Console that is positioned in the cockpit and features an Enhanced Video monitoring System to perform day and night refuelling.

To go further or stay longer on station, the A330 MRTT can be fitted with a Universal Aerial Refuelling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI) which allows refuelling from another tanker’s boom.

Able to refuel any receiver, the A330 MRTT can carry up to 111 tonnes / 245,000 lb of fuel in its tanks. In a deployment mission, the A330 MRTT enables four Eurofighters, to fly 3,600 nm / 5,794 km by refuelling them en-route, or, when carrying 20 tonnes / 44,800lb of payload, to deploy four fighters a distance of 2,800 nm / 4,500km.

The A330 MRTT can also be used on “towline” missions, whereby it can be on station at about 1,000 nm /1,600km from its base for some four hours 30 minutes, with the capability to provide 50 tonnes of fuel to receivers. Or it can provide 60 tonnes /2,170 pounds of fuel while remaining on station for five hours at 500 nm / 800 km from base. This exceeds by far what any other current tanker can offer.

With its true widebody fuselage, the A330 MRTT is ideal to carry a wide range of military or humanitarian payloads on strategic missions. Its cabin is designed to ensure optimum seating configurations in every class, maximising both capacity and comfort. It can accommodate a large variety of layouts, ranging from 253 seats in a three-class configuration, through 298 passengers in two classes, or more than 300 in a single class layout. The cabin is furnished with an attractively modern design. These features enable a complete range of configurations, from pure troop transport to the complex customization required for VIP guests.

The A330 MRTT is also designed to carry a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. Thanks to its optimised fuselage cross section, the cargo can conveniently be carried under-floor in any of the standard containers and pallets, ranging from the LD1 to LD3 and LD6, as well as the standard 88x108 inch 463-L NATO military pallets, which can be loaded onto the aircraft through a proven semi-automatic cargo loading system. Some of the cargo can also be carried as non-palletised “bulk”.

The main deck cargo compartment can also be used for cargo, as required, when the aircraft is specified as a freighter. In this instance the main deck is fitted with a large upper deck cargo door and cargo loading devices in the main deck floor. This allows the A330 MRTT to carry up to 26 88x108 inch 463-L NATO military pallets. Furthermore, the aircraft can also be configured as a combi, to carry freight in the forward part of the main deck and passengers in the aft part.

The A330 MRTT can also be used for medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), as its cabin can easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers.

It is offered with a customised suite of military avionics and a mission system integrated with civil avionics. A comprehensive survivability package including a Defensive Aid System, fuel tank inerting system and an armoured cockpit are all available.

Already ordered by Australia, France, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates and United Kingdom, the A330 MRTT has also been selected by India and Qatar.

The A330 MRTT is a mature and battle-proven aircraft that has already demonstrated its superior flight performance and unmatched fuel transfer capabilities for both ARBS and hose and drogue systems. It is the benchmark for the 21st century.

Airbus Defence and Space is a division of Airbus Group formed by combining the business activities of Cassidian, Astrium and Airbus Military. The new division is Europe’s number one defence and space enterprise, the second largest space business worldwide and among the top ten global defence enterprises. It employs more than 38,000 employees generating revenues of approximately €13 billion per year.