SOURCE: EADS North America

EADS North America

November 09, 2009 11:30 ET

EADS Tanker Program Marks New Milestone With Nighttime Refueling From Royal Australian Air Force A330 MRTT

Advantages of Northrop Grumman's KC-45 Tanker for the U.S. Air Force Confirmed in Operational-Scenario Mission With NATO F-16 Fighters

ARLINGTON, VA--(Marketwire - November 9, 2009) - The A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), an Airbus Military program, has achieved a new milestone with its first nighttime refueling operation using the advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS) integrated on the first Australian A330 tanker.

The Royal Australian Air Force A330 MRTT transferred more than 3,300 pounds of fuel through the ARBS during a multi-contact mission involving two F-16 fighter aircraft.

This flight confirmed the ARBS' superior nighttime operational capabilities with its state-of-the-art 3-D enhanced vision system, which features laser infrared lighting and high-definition digital stereoscopic viewing. It also provided a new validation of the boom's handling qualities, precision and stability as integrated on the A330 MRTT.

The nighttime refueling mission is part of final flight testing for the A330 MRTT, on which Northrop Grumman's KC-45 for the U.S. Air Force is based. This marks another step in preparations for the startup of A330 MRTT deliveries to Australia, which is one of four countries having ordered the next-generation tanker to date.

"Night refueling is one of the most challenging missions for our warfighters, and the A330 MRTT has once again demonstrated its superior capabilities as the only next-generation tanker aircraft in production today," said Ralph D. Crosby, Jr., the Chairman of EADS North America. "Completion of this significant milestone reinforces the fact that the A330 MRTT is able to meet the most demanding U.S. Air Force requirements."

The Royal Australian Air Force's A330 MRTT is similar in configuration to Northrop Grumman's KC-45 Tanker offered for the U.S. Air Force. As with the KC-45, Australia's A330 MRTT incorporates the Airbus Military state-of-the-art Aerial Refueling Boom System with all-electric, fly-by-wire controls, plus two digital hose-and-drogue pods under the wings. The advanced ARBS can deliver fuel at 1,200 U.S. gallons per minute, a key requirement for the U.S. Air Force's tanker.

This mix of boom and pod refueling technologies ensures the A330 MRTT and KC-45 can transfer fuel to all types of receiver aircraft during a single mission without reconfiguration. The KC-45 also offers a centerline hose-and-drogue fuselage refueling unit.

The A330 MRTT is the next-generation tanker of choice for NATO and allied forces worldwide, and continues to demonstrate its maturity leading to the first deliveries next year. To date, the ARBS installed in the Australian A330 MRTT aircraft has performed more than 70 contacts and transferred more than 40,000 pounds of fuel. Overall, the ARBS has completed more than 250 wet and dry contacts with a wide range of receiver aircraft, in a full range of operating conditions and throughout its flight envelope, during evaluations aboard the A330 MRTT and from a test-bed aircraft.

The A330 MRTT has won all of the latest competitions for next-generation aerial refueling aircraft -- with selections by the air forces of Australia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. A total of 28 A330 MRTTs have been ordered to date.

Deliveries of the five A330 MRTTs ordered by Australia will begin in mid-2010. Conversion is complete for the first two aircraft, and the process is ongoing for a third at Qantas Aviation Services in Australia.

A total of five A330 MRTT aircraft currently are in the conversion and flight test process by Airbus Military: the three for Australia, plus two for the United Kingdom -- underscoring the company's ability to build, outfit and deliver the next-generation tanker at a sustained rate. In addition, the first A330 MRTT for the Saudi Royal Air Force will arrive to undergo its conversion in November.

About EADS North America

EADS North America is the North American operation of EADS, a global leader in aerospace, defense and related services. As a leader in all sectors of defense and homeland security, EADS North America and its parent company, EADS, contribute over $11 billion to the U.S. economy annually and support more than 200,000 American jobs through its network of suppliers and services. Operating in 17 states, EADS North America offers a broad array of advanced solutions to its customers in the commercial, homeland security, aerospace and defense markets.

Contact Information

  • Media Contact:
    Guy Hicks
    Vice President, Corporate Communications
    EADS North America
    Tel: 703 236 3346
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