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A330-200 Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA)

Posted by Tra Tran Hung trên Tháng Bảy 16, 2009





Cabin Dimensions:



Empty Weight
Take-off Weight
Optional Maximum Take-off Weight
Payload (Not Fuel)
Fuel Capacity


2 x Rolls-Royce Trent 772B
71,100lb thrust each
2 x GE CF6-80E1
72,000lb thrust each


Maximum Speed


Refuelling Speed With Boom Refuelling
444km/hr to 592km/hr
Refuelling Speed With Hose and Drogue
370km/hr to 602km/hr

Cargo Capacity:

Underfloor freight hold
NATO Pallets / Containers
6 (88in x 108in) pallets plus 2 LD3 containers
Civil Pallets / Containers
26 LD3 or 8 (95in x 25in) pallets plus 2 LD3 containers


In January 2004, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the selection of the AirTanker consortium under a private finance initiative arrangement to provide air-to-air refuelling services for the UK’s Army, Navy and Air Force. The programme is known as the future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA) programme. In February 2005, AirTanker was confirmed as Preferred Bidder for the FSTA.

In June 2007, the UK MoD approved the private finance intiative (PFI) for 14 A330-200 tankers, under which AirTanker will own and support the aircraft while the RAF will fly the aircraft and have total operational control. In March 2008, the UK MoD placed a 27-year contract for the 14 aircraft to enter service in 2011.

“The A330-200 tanker transporters will replace the RAF’s fleet of 26 VC-10 and Tristar tanker aircraft.”

The AirTanker Consortium is led by EADS with a 40% share, and also includes Cobham (13.33%), Rolls-Royce (20%), Thales (13.33%) and VT Aerospace (13.33%).

The tanker transporters will replace the RAF’s fleet of 26 VC-10 and Tristar tanker aircraft which are approaching the end of operational life.

The MoD air-to-air refuelling programme will cover a 27-year service period and represents the world’s largest defence private financing initiative arrangement. The contract includes options to extend the service for a further period.

The consortium will convert and own the A330-200 multi-role tanker transporter (MRTT) aircraft. The consortium is responsible for certifying and maintaining the aircraft and also for the provision of crew training for the RAF and the provision of sponsored reservist aircrews to supplement RAF crew when required.

In April 2004, Australia also selected the A330-200 MRTT for the AIR 5402 requirement for five aircraft. The MRTT, designated the KC-30B, will replace Australia’s Boeing 707 tanker transporters. In June 2006, Airbus delivered the first A330 platform to EADS CASA in Madrid for conversion. First flight of the KC-30 for Australia was in June 2007. The aircraft are planned to enter service from 2009.

In February 2007, the A330 MRTT was selected by the United Arab Emirates. The contract was placed in February 2008 for three aircraft to enter service from 2011.

In January 2008, Saudi Arabia placed an order for three A330 MRTT aircraft. The aircraft will be fitted with the EADS air refuelling boom system (ARBS) and hose and drogue refuelling pods.

The A330-200 MRTT has a sufficiently high cruise speed and large internal fuel capacity to fly 4,000km, refuel six fighter aircraft en route and carry 43t of non-fuel cargo. Similarly, the aircraft could give away 68t of fuel during two hours on station at a range of 1,000nm.

In February 2008, the KC-30 (since redesignated the KC-45), a tanker based on the A330, was chosen for the US Air Force KC-X next-generation tanker requirement to replace the KC-135. Northrop Grumman led the KC-30 team with EADS as major subcontractor. An appeal by competitor Boeing was upheld and in September 2008, the US Department of Defense cancelled the competition, citing the need to defer any decision for the next presidential administration taking power in January 2008.


The company AirTanker Services Ltd will operate and maintain the fleet of A330-200 MRTT aircraft. VT Group, the support services integrator, will be based at RAF Brize Norton.

On military operations the aircraft will be flown by Royal Air Force aircrew. When not in military service the aircraft can be leased for commercial use and operated by civilian aircrew.

It is envisaged that the fleet will be managed in three groups. A majority will be in full time military service with the RAF. Another group will be in military service during the weekdays, switching to commercial use at the weekend, and the other aircraft will be in full-time commercial use but available to the RAF in times of crisis.

Manufacture and conversion

The standard A330-200 commercial aircraft will be built at the Airbus manufacturing centre at Toulouse. The aircraft are to be transferred to Cobham manufacturing facilities at Bournemouth International Airport, UK, for conversion to the tanker transporter variant and aircraft certification will be carried out by QinetiQ at Boscombe Down.

“The A330-200 MRTT has a sufficiently high cruise speed and large internal fuel capacity to fly 4,000km.”

All the aircraft will be capable of being fitted with two Cobham FRL 900E Mark 32B refuelling pods, one under each wing. Some aircraft will receive a third centreline underbelly refuelling system.

The A330-200 wing shares the same design structure including the strengthened mounting points as that of the four-engine A340 aircraft. The wing positions for mounting the air-to-air refuelling pods therefore require minimal modification.

The aircraft’s fuel system includes the installation of additional pipework and controls.

The baseline commercial aircraft uses a configuration of very high capacity fuel tanks in the wings so modifications to the fuel tanks for the tanker transporter role are not required.

Other than the refuelling systems, the main areas of modifications are the installation of plug-in and removable military avionics, military communications and a defensive aids suite. The military systems will be removed when the aircraft is in commercial non-military use. The passenger cabin and the cargo compartment are not altered.

The lower deck cargo compartment can hold six 88in x 108in Nato standard pallets plus two LD3 containers. The civil cargo load could be 28 LD3 containers or eight 96in×125in pallets plus two LD3 containers.


The aircraft has a maximum fuel capacity of 139,090l or 111t. The high fuel capacity enables the aircraft to fly at longer ranges, to stay on station longer and to refuel more aircraft, which increases the basing options and reduces forces reliance on host nation support. For the UK requirement the aircraft is fitted with a hose and drogue system but will be fitted with a refuelling boom system for the Australian order.

Cobham is providing the air refuelling equipment including the 905E wing pods and a fuselage refuelling unit. Cobham also supplies antennae, cockpit control systems, oxygen and fuel system units and composite components for all Airbus A330 aircraft.

The QinetiQ AirTanker support team carried out an air refuelling trial of the A330-200 aircraft on 28 October 2003. The test involved assessing the handling qualities of the Tornado aircraft flown in a number of representative refuelling positions astern the wing and centreline refuelling stations. The two-hour flight test included various approaches to the refuelling positions and exploring displacements vertically and laterally from the normal refuelling position.

The trial was carried out in between 15,000ft and 20,000ft and at 280kt which is the middle of the Tornado’s refuelling envelope. Within this test envelope there was minimum turbulence in the airflow astern the A330-200 and the Tornado’s handling qualities were very satisfactory in all tested positions.

“The high fuel capacity enables the aircraft to fly at longer ranges, to stay on station longer and to refuel more aircraft.”

Flight deck

The flight deck of the A330 is similar to that of the A340. The tanker transporter aircraft cockpit has a refuelling officer’s station behind the pilot and co-pilot seats.

The electronic flight information system has six large interchangable displays with duplicated primary flight and navigation displays (PFD and ND) and electronic centralised aircraft monitors (ECAM). The pilot and co-pilot positions have sidestick controllers and rudder pedals. The aircraft is equipped with an Airbus future navigation system (FANS-A), including a Honeywell flight management system and Smiths digital control and display system.

The fly-by-wire computer suite includes three flight control primary computers and two flight control secondary computers, all operating continuously.

UK tankers are being fitted with the Northrop Grumman large aircraft infrared countermeasures system (LAIRCM).

Cargo and passengers

Even with a full fuel load, the aircraft has the capacity to carry 43t of cargo. The aircraft can carry up to 285 passengers.


The aircraft for the UK are powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B jet engines, each providing 71,100lb of thrust. The aircraft for Australia are powered by GE CF6-80E1 engines, rated at 72,000lb thrust.

The auxiliary power unit is a Hamilton Sundstrand GTCP 331-350C.

The main four-wheel bogie landing gear, the fuselage centre line twin wheel auxiliary gear and the twin wheel nose units are fitted with Goodyear tyres. The runway length for maximum take-off weight is 2,650m and the ground turning radius is 43.6m.


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