The initial A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) allocated for Americaâ€™s modernisation of its ageing aerial refuelling fleet has begun its build-up on the A330/A340 final assembly line in Toulouse.
This aircraft â€“ which is based on the A330-200 jetliner â€“ would be delivered in November for mission equipment outfitting if the A330 MRTT is selected as a new-generation tanker for the U.S. Air Force. The A330 MRTT is proposed by a U.S. industry team led by Northrop Grumman, with EADS responsible for supplying the A330-200 airframe.
In its role as a â€œflying petrol station,â€ the A330 MRTT is fitted with a large deployable boom installed under the tail, along with two underwing pods â€“ all of which are capable of transferring large volumes of fuel. Such platforms are vital to military operations, allowing fighter jets and other aircraft to be refuelled while in the air, thereby avoiding the need to return to an airfield for a top-off.
The A330-200 already has been acquired in its tanker configuration by international military forces. Australia has ordered five KC-30B versions of the A330 MRTT, and three similar tanker aircraft are being acquired by the United Arab Emirates. In addition, the United Kingdom has designed the A330-200 for its Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme.
If selected for the U.S. Air Force refuelling fleet modernisation, the A330 MRTT would be assembled and outfitted in the United States at Mobile, Alabama â€“ at a facility located adjacent to Airbusâ€™ newest engineering centre in North America.