[Type-o-graphy] Airbus A330 MRTT

The A330 MRTT is the only new-generation Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft flying, and fully certified today, after having demonstrated its capability during an extensive Flight Test campaign. Following a first delivery in early June, it is due to begin operations with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) in early Fall. The A330 MRTT uniquely offers military strategic air transport as well as air-to-air refuelling capabilities.

The A330 MRTT is the most capable Tanker/ Transporter currently available. It is the only aircraft able to perform simultaneously three different types of missions: Aerial Refuelling (Tanker role), passenger and/or freight transport, and/or medical evacuation (MEDEVAC). Also, its tank capacity is sufficient to supply the required fuel quantities without the need for any additional reservoirs, nor major structural modifications and it is able to carry more passengers and more freight than any of its competitors.

A sound basis

The A330 MRTT is based on the latest medium- to long-range, twin-aisle, twin engine commercial aircraft of the Airbus fly-by-wire family, the A330. More than 1,100 of these have been sold to nearly 90 customers and more than 800 are operated all around the globe, ensuring easy support and many years of commercial life ahead.

Able to carry up to 111 tonnes / 245,000 lb of fuel in its wings, the basic fuel capacity of the successful A330-200 airliner, from which it is derived, enables the A330 MRTT to excel in Air-to-Air Refuelling missions and refuel any kind of receiver, without the need for any additional fuel tank, hereby avoiding any reduction in its ability to carry passengers or cargo.

Thanks to its true wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT offers a great variety of configurations. It can be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry up to 300 troops, or a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions.

Air-to-air refuelling

The A330-200 wing is large enough to hold all the fuel needed (111 tonnes / 245,000 lb) to make the A330 MRTT a high performing tanker able to refuel any kind of receiver, without requiring any additional fuel tanks and so avoiding any reduction in its ability to carry passengers or cargo. To refuel receptacle-equipped aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon, F-35A Lightning II, or even the A330 MRTT itself (when fitted with an UARRSI), the A330 MRTT is provided with the advanced Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), the only new generation and fully operational boom which allows the fastest fuel transfer.

To refuel probe-equipped receivers such as Eurofighter or Tornado, the A330 MRTT is fitted with two Cobham 905E under-wing hose and drogue pods.

Large probe-equipped aircraft such as the A400M or C295, can be refuelled via the Cobham 805E Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU).

Those Air to Air Refuelling (AAR) systems are controlled from an advanced Fuel Operator Console that is positioned in the cockpit and features an Enhanced Video monitoring System to perform day and night refuelling.

The A330 MRTT can also be used on towline mission, whereby it can be on station at about 1,000 nm / 1,600km from its base for some four hours 30 minutes, with the capability to provide 50 tonnes / 110,000 lb of fuel for needing receivers. Or it can provide 60 tonnes / 132,000 lb of fuel while remaining on station for five hours at 500 nm / 930 km from base. It enables, for examples, four Eurofighters to fly 3,600 nm / 6,700 km by refuelling them en-route, or, when carrying 20 tonnes / 44,100 lb of payload, to deploy four fighters a distance of 2,800 nm / 5,200km. This exceeds by far what any other current tanker can offer. It is therefore an unmatchable force multiplier, enhancing significantly the range or endurance of any fighter.

Air transport capabilities

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 both capacity and comfort. These features enable a complete range of configurations, from pure troop transport to the complex customization required for VIP guests. For example, it can accommodate 253 seats in a three-class configuration, through to 270 passengers in two classes, or some 300 in a single class layout.

The A330 MRTT is also designed to carry a payload of up to 45 tonnes / 99,000 lb. Thanks to its optimised fuselage cross section, the cargo can conveniently be carried under-floor in any of the standard containers and pallets, ranging from the LD1 to LD3 and LD6, as well as the standard 88x108 inch 463-L NATO military pallets, which can be loaded onto the aircraft through a proven semi-automatic cargo loading system. Some of the cargo can also be carried as non-palletised “bulk”.

The main deck cargo compartment can also be used for cargo, as required, when the aircraft is specified as a freighter. In this instance the main deck is fitted with a large upper deck cargo door and cargo loading devices in the main deck floor. This allows the A330 MRTT to carry up to 26 88x108 inch 463-L NATO military pallets. Furthermore, the aircraft can also be configured as a combi, to carry freight in the forward part of the main deck and passengers in the aft part.

The A330 MRTT is also an outstanding strategic medical and casualty evacuation (casevac and medevac) aircraft with a widebody cabin capable of carrying, from prepared airfields, up to 130 stretchers over intercontinental distances in comfort. 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.

Military systems

The A330 MRTT also benefits from the most up-to-date design and manufacturing techniques, and integrates the most advanced avionics as well as the proven fly-by-wire control systems which allow total flight envelope protection (when in normal control law) featured by the basic A330-200. This means higher reliability as well as lower crew workload, and enabling concentration on mission execution.

The A330 MRTT is offered with a customised suite of military avionics and a mission system integrated with civil avionics. A comprehensive survivability package including a Defensive Aid System (DAS), fuel tank inerting system and an armoured cockpit are all available.

Representing the state-of-the-art in its category, the A330-200 has a range of up to 8,000 nm/ 14,800 km, with a maximum speed of Mach 0.86. It is the primary choice as a platform for a Multi Role Tanker Transport, offering the best performance at the lowest investment and costs. It provides the best value for money, with potential for long-term growth as confirmed by its continuing successes in the market.

Operational history

The A330 MRTT has been ordered by Australia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. Australia was the launch customer for the A330 MRTT.
  • Royal Australian Air Force: 5 in service "Launch Customer"
  • Royal Saudi Air Force: 6 on order
  • Republic of Singapore Air Force: 6 on order
  • United Arab Emirates Air Force: 3 on order, one delivered
  • Royal Air Force: ordered a total of 14 aircraft (7 × KC2, 5 × KC3 + 2 fitted for KC3)

  • A330 MRTT: an Airbus A330-200 converted by Airbus Military for air-refuelling duties.
  • KC-30A: Australian designation for an A330 MRTT with two under-wing refuelling pods and an Aerial Refuelling Boom System.
  • KC-45A: United States Air Force designation for an A330 MRTT with two under-wing refuelling pods and an Aerial Refuelling Boom System, order cancelled.
  • Voyager KC2: Royal Air Force designation for an A330 MRTT with two under-wing pods only.
  • Voyager KC3: Royal Air Force designation for an A330 MRTT with two under-wing pods and a fuselage refuelling unit.


General characteristics:
  • Crew: 3 (2 pilots, 1 AAR operator)
  • Capacity: 291 passengers and 8 military pallets + 1LD6 container + 1 LD3 container (lower deck cargo compartments)
  • Length: 58.80 m
  • Height: 17.4 m
  • Wingspan: 60.3 m
  • Wing area: 362 m2
  • Main deck lenght: 41 m
  • Main deck height: 2.45 m
  • Main deck maximum width: 5.30 m
  • Main deck maximum useable volume: 335 m3
  • Cargo compartment length:
    - forward: 11.8 m
    - aft: 10.2 m
    - bulk: 4 m
  • Cargo compartment height:
    - forward: 1.7 m
    - aft: 1.65 m
    - bulk: 1.8 m
  • Cargo compartment width:
    - forward: 4.15 m
    - aft: 4.15 m
    - bulk: 3.8 m
  • Cargo compartment volume: 120 m3
  • Maximum Take-off Weight: 233.000 kg
  • Maximum Landing Weight: 182.000 kg
  • Internal Fuel Weight: 111.000 kg
  • Maximum Payload: 45.000 kg
Engine (x2):
  • 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
    • Maximum Operating Altitude (refuelling): 35.000 ft / 10.700 m
    • Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS): Mach 0.86 / 550 kt
    • Cruise Speed Range: 0.82-0.86 M
    • Range with maximum payload (45 000 kg - 99 000 lb): 3800 nm / 7000 km
    • Range with 30.000 kg (66 000 lb) payload: 5500 nm / 10.200 km
    • Range with 20 000 kg (44 000 lb) payload: 6500 nm / 12.000 km
    • Maximum Range (Ferry): 8000 nm / 14.800 km
    Air-to-air refuelling:
    • Towline, 60 000 kg (132 300 lb), 5 hours on station: 500 nm / 930 km
    • Towline, 50 000 kg (110 230 lb), 4.5 hours on station: 1000 nm / 1850 km
    • Deployment, 4 fighters, 50 personnel and 12 000 kg (26 400 lb) payload: 2800 nm / 5200 km
    • Deployment, 4 fighters: 3600 nm / 6700 km


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