As the most capable new-generation tanker, combat-proven and with unique multi-role capabilities, the A330 MRTT – based on the successful A330-200 – is the benchmark for multi-role tankers.
As a new-generation tanker, the A330 MRTT is a perfect replacement for older aircraft under fleet replacement programmes. With 60 total aircraft sales as of March 2020, the A330 MRTT has been ordered by Australia (as launch customer), France, NATO, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and the UK.
Orders & deliveries
|Total in Operations||51|
A330 MRTT – Three missions in one
The A330 MRTT can carry up to 111 tonnes of fuel; this is the highest capacity of all tanker aircraft, even those with additional fuel tanks in the cargo deck. It has the capacity of offloading 50,000 kg of fuel to a broad range of receivers during a four-hour loitering mission at over 1,000 nm from its take-off point.
The A330 MRTT can carry a maximum payload of up to 45 tonnes, combining the passenger cabin and the lower deck: up to 300 passengers; MedEvac cabin layout with 40 stretchers, 20 seats for medical staff and 100 passengers; up to 37 tonnes of cargo in the lower deck; 27 LD3 containers or eight military pallets.
Another typical mission is the deployment of fighter aircraft over a long distance. The A330 MRTT can support the deployment of four fighter aircraft plus 50 personnel and 12 tonnes of freight (luggage, spare parts and equipment) in one direct flight over 5,200 km, e.g. from Europe to Afghanistan.
|In air-to-air refuelling (AAR) missions||97% success rate|
|Flight hours||More than 125,000|
|Acquired by||Eight leading customers around the world|
|Missions||Three missions in one|
The A330 MRTT is the most effective tanker based on its unmatched fuel capacity that allows it to offload more fuel at any given distance than any competitor. More fuel on-board means more flexibility, more range and longer time on station. Its enormous fuel capacity allows the A330 MRTT to act as a force multiplier, improving the efficiency and effectiveness of fast jets operations.
Refuelling capabilities of the A330 MRTT have been validated in testing operations with fighter and larger receiver aircraft, and were bolstered by Airbus’ 2018 agreement with Lockheed Martin to jointly explore opportunities to meet the growing demand for aerial refuelling for U.S. defence customers – with the A330 MRTT at its heart.
Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS)
To refuel receptacle-equipped aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-35A Lightning II, or another the A330 MRTT (when fitted with a Universal Aerial Refuelling Receptacle Slipway Installation, UARRSI), the A330 MRTT is provided with the advanced Airbus Defence and Space Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS).
Its fast fuel flow rate (up to a maximum of 3,600 kg/min – 1,200 US gal/min) makes the ARBS the most capable new-generation flight-proven boom available. Excellent handling qualities are provided for the operation of the ARBS, rated as such by independent assessments.
Under-wing pods provide simultaneous hose and drogue refuelling at high fuel offload rate (1,300 kg/min – 420 US gal/min), allowing receivers to minimise refuelling time and increase operation efficiency.
The Cobham 905E under-wing pods, currently in service and proven in operation, enable the A330 MRTT to refuel any NATO or allied probe-equipped receivers such as the Eurofighter, the Tornado, the Jaguar or the F/A18 Hornet. The A330 MRTT physical compatibility with receivers across the world is established, demonstrated and certified to allow coalition interoperability.
The 900 series wing-pods incorporate a digitally controlled and electrically operated hose drum unit, optimising reliability and maintainability.
Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU)
Large probe-equipped aircraft such as the A400M or C295 can be refuelled at a high fuel offload rate of 1,800 kg/min – 600 US gal/min via the Cobham 805E Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU).
The FRU, a removable hose and drogue unit, allows refuelling receivers with a different fuel type. This option ensures NATO fuel type is transferred from wing-pods, while an alternative fuel type is dispensed from the FRU.
Those air-to-air refuelling (AAR) systems are controlled from an advanced Fuel Operator Console that is positioned in the cockpit, increasing the safety of the AAR operation by ensuring a timely and synchronised reaction of the flight crew to unexpected events. It also features an Enhanced Vision System, a high definition 2D/3D digital system that enables performing day and night refuelling and can provide high resolution video recording of the refuelling operations.
Multi-role strategic transport with global reach
With its true widebody fuselage, the A330 MRTT is ideal to carry any kind of military or humanitarian payload on strategic missions.
Furnished with an attractively modern design, the cabin is conceived to ensure optimum seating configurations in every class, maximising capacity and providing airline comfort. These features enable a complete range of interior configurations, from pure passenger and troop transport to the complex customisation required for VIP guests. For example, it can accommodate 266 passengers in a typical two-class configuration or some 300 in a single-class layout.
The A330 MRTT is capable of carrying a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. The versatility of the A330 MRTT enables cargo to be conveniently stored inside the lower deck in a variety of cargo options covering the full range of existing under-floor cargo containers and pallets, ranging from the LD1 to LD3 to LD6, as well as the standard 88×108 inch 463-L NATO military pallets. Some of the cargo can also be carried as non-palletised “bulk.” Commercial containers and pallets as well as military equipment and other large items are loaded through a cargo door.
The A330 MRTT is also an outstanding strategic aeromedical evacuation (MedEvac) aircraft. Its large fuselage permits maximum flexibility for up to 130 NATO stretchers to be carried over intercontinental distances. In a “light medevac” configuration, medical beds can be installed above designated fold-down seats. This allows the aircraft to be used as a troop transport on an outbound relief mission, with medical beds stowed in the lower cargo compartments, and then rapidly converted for MedEvac on the return. In an “Intensive MedEvac” configuration, critical care modules can be installed to replicate an intensive care unit in the air. The aircraft could typically carry 28 NATO stretchers, up to six critical care modules, 20 seats for medical staff and 100 passenger seats..
In 2020, Airbus joined with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to develop the A330 SMART MRTT – providing the company’s A330-derived Multi Role Tanker Transport with such capabilities as Automatic Air-to-Air refuelling and enhanced maintenance.
Airbus has begun flight testing for the development of the A330 SMART MRTT. The newly evolved aircraft will be the world's first to integrate the fully Automatic Air-to-Air Refuelling (A3R) capability. Using a converted tanker from the Republic of Singapore Air Force for the campaign, the SMART MRTT will also bring other innovations such as an enhanced vision system for night-time covert operations and improved sensors to capture more data and move towards predictive maintenance.