In 2018 Singapore and the Republic of Korea will receive their first A330 MRTTs and enable them, as well as their allies, to conduct non-stop Pacific operations.
The imminent entry into service for both countries will contribute to the on-going transformational change of the Asia Pacific region’s defence capabilities.
Following Australia’s decision to select the A330 MRTT in 2005 as its future tanker and strategic transport aircraft, the Airbus Defence and Space aerial refuelling platform has been selected by eleven air forces.
Since then the security challenges of the Asia Pacific region have grown even further, reshaping surrounding countries’ defence strategies.
In these demanding circumstances, A330 MRTT operators will be able to support non-stop Pacific operations (e.g. USA to Australia) thanks to the superior performance and fuel offload capacities of the A330 MRTT compared with other new-generation tankers.
Key regional players will be able to work, train and provide cross linkages together. The A330 MRTT fleets from Australia, Singapore and the Republic of Korea will be able to deploy their respective fighter forces together with 20 tonnes of payload per MRTT (maintenance personnel and equipment, cargo, spare parts, etc.) over 3,000 nautical miles.
By employing common assets, the A330 MRTT operators in the area can join efforts more effectively, and share training, mission experience, receiver clearances and airfields or sea bases as well asspecific support equipment.
When it comes to supporting the allies’ operations in the region, the A330 MRTT customers will be capable of covering tanker needs resulting from the current USAF’s ageing fleet.
At the Avalon Airshow in 2017, the RAAF and Airbus Defence and Space put in place a research and development programme for the RAAF MRTT, in line with Plan Jericho to turn the RAAF into a fully integrated force. This programme, called Smart MRTT, provides a set of enhancements (e.g. increased connectivity, automatic air-to-air refuelling) that will be available to all A330 MRTT customers, taking the platform to the next level.
When taking into account all these circumstances, the conclusion is that the A330 MRTT will enable its operators to establish superior military air refuelling and strategic transport capability in the Pacific theatre in the decades to come.