March 1, 2005 Air refuelling is a vital military capability that enables armed forces to rapidly deploy offensive, defensive and combat support aircraft, as well as troops and equipment, over long distances, as quickly as possible. The importance of air refuelling has been demonstrated over many years and the announcement earlier this week that AirTanker was to become the preferred bidder for the UK RAF replacement program highlights just how capable airtankers have become. The new A330 FSTA tankers will each be able to deliver 65 tonnes of fuel in their air-to-air refuelling role, at a distance of 1,000 miles from base, following up to two hours on station. All of the fuel, including that consumed by the A330 FSTA itself, is carried entirely within existing tanks in the wing and tail, leaving the whole cabin free for some 295 seats in a troop-transport role, and its entire cargo hold free to carry military equipment on pallets or in containers.
Global aerospace and defence conglomerate EADS is to become the leading supplier of military transport aircraft to the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force (RAF) following an announcement by Geoff Hoon, the UK Secretary of State for Defence, that AirTanker has been selected as the preferred bidder for Britain's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme.
The Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme is a 27-year Ministry of Defence contract to provide air refuelling and air transport services to the RAF. It will replace the RAF's current fleet of 19 VC 10s and 9 Tristar aircraft. The aircraft will be owned and supported by AirTanker and staffed by service personnel under the operational control of the RAF.
The A330 FSTA will be more than 50 per cent British by value. The tankers will each be able to deliver 65 tonnes of fuel in their air-to-air refuelling role, at a distance of 1,000 miles from base, following up to two hours on station. Fuel can be offloaded through wing-mounted pods and hose-and-drogues.
All of the fuel, including that consumed by the A330 FSTA itself, is carried entirely within existing tanks in the wing and tail. This leaves the whole cabin free for some 295 seats in the A330 FSTA's troop-transport role, and its entire cargo hold free to carry military equipment on pallets or in containers.
Two consortia, AirTanker Ltd (comprising Rolls Royce, EADS, Cobham and Thales) and the Tanker Transport Services Company (TTSC, comprising BAE Systems, Boeing, Serco and Spectrum Capital) submitted bids for this contract last year, but with this announcement, AirTanker is now certain to take the contract.
The AirTanker Ltd proposal is based on a service solution utilising AirBus A330-200 fitted with Rolls Royce Trent engines. The aircraft would operate out of RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
The CEO's added: "The British Government is well known to be a very demanding customer which requires the best for its highly respected armed forces. Our successes here and in Australia confirm the competitiveness of the A330-200 tanker offer and EADS' ability to provide profitable customer-tailored financing schemes. This strong recognition will boost our efforts to meet similar requirements elsewhere in the world, particularly in the US."
Australian Defence Forces will be acquiring five A330 MRTTs to replace its ageing Boeing 707 tanker transporters with the first aircraft scheduled for 2007 delivery. EADS will also be delivering two A310 MRTT aircraft to the Canadian Air Force and four to the German Air Force over the next two years.
EADS is a global leader in aerospace, defence and related services. In 2003, EADS generated revenues of EURO 30.1 billion and employed a workforce of about 109,000. The EADS Group includes the aircraft manufacturer Airbus, the world's largest helicopter supplier Eurocopter and the joint venture MBDA, the second largest missile producer in the global market.
EADS is the major partner in the Eurofighter consortium, is the prime contractor for the Ariane launcher, develops the A400M military transport aircraft and is the largest industrial partner for the European satellite navigation system Galileo.
Airtanker has kindly supplied plans for a PDF cut-out paper plane replica of the Airtanker. Collect yours here.