The Need for a New Generation of Tankers

Recent conflicts have demonstrated the ever-increasing need for a new generation of modern tankers that are more capable and more versatile.

Maintaining an adequate air refuelling capability is critical to the success of any military intervention. However, Air Forces and Governments now need their tankers to be able to perform more than their dedicated refuelling operations, and need role flexibility to increase the scope of their missions, and also maximise the value to taxpayers of these assets.

The A330-200 – A Sound Basis

The A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) is based on the successful A330-200, a medium-to long range, twin aisle, twin engine, commercial aircraft of the Airbus family. Its design combines the proven fly-by-wire control system and advanced avionics with the most up to-date manufacturing techniques enabling the lowest operating costs.

More than 1050 of these aircraft have been sold to over 80 customers and more than 700 are in operation all around the globe, ensuring easy support and many years of commercial life ahead.

A330 MRTT - The Benchmark

The Airbus Military A330 MRTT has become the market leader in its category, thanks to its flight proven advantages:

  • Superior performance.
  • Latest technology available.
  • True multi role flexibility.
  • Large basic fuel capacity.
  • Permanent lower deck freight capacity.
  • Excellent payload/range capability.
  • Low life cycle costs.

The A330 MRTT is the low risk solution for air forces as it is developed and available now.

Air-to-Air Refuelling Capabilities

The large 111 tonnes/245 000 lb basic fuel capacity enables the A330 MRTT to excel in Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) missions without any additional fuel tanks.

The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven AAR systems including:

  • An advanced Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) for receptacle-equipped receivers such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon or the A330 MRTT itself (when equipped with a receptacle). The Airbus Military ARBS is the only new generation boom which allows the fastest fuel transfer (4600 litres/min/1200 US gal), hereby greatly reducing the refuelling operation time.
  • Two Cobham 905E under-wing hose and drogue pods to simultaneously refuel two probe-equipped receivers such as Eurofighters.
  • A Cobham 805E hose and drogue centre Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU) to refuel large military aircraft such as the A400M.
  • A Universal Aerial Refuelling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI) receptacle to be refuelled by another tanker.

These AAR systems are controlled from a state-of-the-art Air Refuelling Console integrated in the cockpit.

In a deployment mission, the A330 MRTT enables four Eurofighters, to fly 3600 nm by refuelling them en-route, or, when carrying 20 tonnes of payload, to fly these four fighters a distance of 2800 nm.

The A330 MRTT can also be used on towline mission, whereby it can be on station at about 1000 nm from its base for some 4 hours 30 minutes, with the capability to provide 50 tonnes of fuel for needing receivers. Or to provide 60 tonnes of fuel while remaining on station for 5 hours at 500 nm from base. This exceeds by far what any other current tanker can offer.

Air Transport Capabilities

Thanks to its true wide-body fuselage with the optimised Airbus 222-inch cross-section, the A330 MRTT
can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry up to 300 troops or a payload of up to 45
tonnes/99 000lb.

It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC).

As no additional fuel tanks are needed the A330 MRTT maintains the lower deck forward, aft and bulk cargo hold payload capacity, unaffected by any AAR equipment.

The versatility of the A330 MRTT enables a large number of cargo options to be transported. From standard commercial containers, such as the most used LD3, and pallets, through military, ISO and NATO pallets and containers, to military vehicles.

As an option the main deck can be configured for cargo transport with the installation of a large door to allowing large items of equipment to be carried or a total of thirty-four 463-L military pallets.

Military Systems

The A330 MRTT also features a suite of advanced military avionics and mission systems integrated with the civil avionics, and can also be provided with a comprehensive survivability package including a Defensive Aid System, fuel tank inerting and cockpit armouring.

An Accepted Standard

The A330 MRTT has won all the latest competitions for tanker/transport solutions, making a total of 28 MRTTs contracted:

  • Five KC-30A MRTTs (local name of the A330 MRTT) ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force.
  • Six A330 MRTTs ordered by the Royal Saudi Air Force.
  • Three A330 MRTTs ordered by the United Arab Emirates Air Force & Air Defence.
  • Fourteen A330 FSTAs ordered by AirTanker to supply the UK’s Royal Air Force with air-to-air refuelling and strategic transport services.

The A330 MRTT was the basis of Northrop Grumman KC-45A tanker wich was selected by the US Air Force in 2008. Subsequently the tanker programme was relaunched and Northrop Grumman declined to bid.

The Airbus A310 is also operated in a dedicated MRTT version, which is derived from second hand aircraft. Four of this new generation mid-size tanker/transport aircraft are operated by the German Air Force and two by Canada’s air force.

Specifications - Performance - A330 MRTT
General Dimensions
Overall Length 58.80 m 93 ft
Overall Height 17.40 m 57 ft
Wing Span 60.30 m 198 ft
Cargo Capabilities
Maximum Pallet Number in Lower Deck
4 x 463-L military pallet + 1 LD6 (forward)
4 x 463-L military pallet (aft)
1 x LD3 container (bulk)
Maximum Container Number in Lower Deck
12 x LD3 containers (forward)
14 x LD3 containers (aft)
1 x LD3 container (bulk)
Maximum Pallet Number in Optional Main Deck 26 x 463-L military pallets
Cabin Configuration
Maximum Maximum Number of Passengers 380
Maximum Number of Stretchers 130 NATO stretchers
Maximum Weights
Maximum Take-Off Weight (MTOW)
233 000 kg 514 000 lb
Maximum Landing Weight (MLW)
182 000 kg 400 000 lb
Maximum Zero Fuel Weight (MZFW)
170 000 kg 375 000 lb
Maximum Fuel Weight (MFW)
111 000 kg 245 000 lb
Maximum Payload 45 000 kg 99 000 lb
Maximum Cruise Altitude at MTOW
41 500 ft 12 600 m
Maximum Operating Altitude - AAR Mission
35 000 ft 10 700 m
Refuelling Envelope 180-325 kt CAS 330-600 km/h
General Electric CF6-80E1A3
72 000 lbf 320 kN
Pratt and Whitney PW 4168A
68 000 lbf 302 kN
Rolls-Royce Trent 772B 71 000 lbf 316 kN
Flight Crew
Mission Crew 1 Air Refuelling Operator and
1 Mission Planning System Operator (optional)

Airbus Military