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Airbus A330 MRTT - France (2011)

Detailing the development and operational history of the Airbus A330 MRTT Aerial Refueling Tanker / General Transport.

 Entry last updated on 10/23/2017; Authored by Staff Writer; Content ©

  Airbus A330 MRTT  
Picture of Airbus A330 MRTT Aerial Refueling Tanker / General Transport

The Airbus A330 MRTT is a militarized form of the Airbus A330 airframe and primarily marketed for the in-flight refueling role.

The French Airbus A330 MRTT (MultiRole Tanker Transport) is a modern militarized version of the commercial-minded A330-200 series. The A330 began life as a wide-body airliner company offering with a first flight in November of 1992 and introduction into the market in January of 1994. Since then, nearly 1,000 units have been produced (2013) and the type had proven popular with several major airlines including Delata and Qatar Airways.

The A330 MRTT takes the original design a step further by providing a capable air tanker platform for the world military market. Externally, the design remains largely unchanged and includes the same low-mounted wings, forward set flight deck, conventional unit with single vertical fin and underslung engine nacelles. Internally, however, the majority of the volume is reserved for stores of aviation fuel or cargo space requiring a minimal operating crew of three (fuel systems / cargo manager and two pilots. The type is powered by a variety of engines to suit customer requirements - the British Rolls-Royce Trent 772B series, the American General Electric CF6-80E1A4 and the American Pratt & Whitney PW 4168A series turbofan engines, rated at 72,000lbs thrust output. Performance figures include a maximum speed of 550 miles per hour, cruising speed of 535 miles per hour, a range out to 9,200 miles and service ceiling of 41,500 feet. First flight of a prototype MRTT occurred on June 15th, 2007 with introduction into service on June 1st, 2011. Production began in 2007.

Airbus designed the MRTT as a multirole platform which allows for its conversion to a standard theater transport hauling pallets and containers or, when equipped as such, seating for some 380 passengers. In its fuel tanker guise, the product can be equipped to suit operator taste with dedicated refueling boom, underwing refueling pods and/or Fuselage Refueling Unit (FRU). Fully-loaded, the MRTT can take on 240,000lb of fuel.

To date (2013), operators of the MRTT series include the Royal Australian Air Force (five airframes in service), the Royal Saudi Air Force (six airframes on order), the United Arab Emirates Air Force (single unit delivered, three on order) and the Royal Air Force (deliveries ongoing, 14 airframes on order). RAAF variants fall under the local designation of "KC-30A" while RAF variants are designation under the "Voyager" name (as "Voyager KC2" and "Voyager KC3").

At one time a variant of the A330 MRTT was known as the "KC-45A" (under the EADS and Northrop Grumman joint brand label) during its failed bid to become the next tanker for the United States Air Force.

In March of 2014 it was announced that the Qata had selected a pair of A330 MRTT aircraft for its Air Force joining existing operators in Australia, Saudi Arabia; Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom.

In May 2015 it was announced that a joint purchase request for A330 tanker-transports had been submitted by the governments of Netherlands, Norway, and Poland - no doubt driven by Russian interference in the Ukraine Crisis.

July 2015 - It was announced that South Korea has elected to purchase four Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft (over the in-development, competing Boeing KC-46A model. Deliveries are expected to be completed in 2019.

A version of the MRTT based on the latest form of the Airbus A330 is in the works as the A330 MRTT "Enhanced". Updated avionics, mission equipment, and minor structural refinements will be part of the upgrade program.

December 2015 - The British Royal Air Force is set to configure one of its MRTT aircraft for the VIP transport role.

July 2016 - Netherlands and Luxembourg have placed orders for a pair of A330 MRTT aircraft.

August 2016 - India, originally scheduled to take on six Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft, has distanced itself from the deal.

September 2017 - A second A330 MRTT, modified for service with the French Air Force, recorded its first-flight on September 7th, 2017. The branch is expected to take on a fleet of nine A330 tanker-transports under the name of "Phenix". It is slated to enter formal service in 2018.

October 2017 - Germany and Norway has placed orders for five A330 MRTT aircraft.

Airbus A330 MRTT Specifications

Service Year: 2011
Status: Active, In-Service
Type: Aerial Refueling Tanker / General Transport
National Origin: France
Manufacturer(s): Airbus Military - France
Total Production: 34

Operating Crew, Dimensions and Operating Weights

Operating Crew (Typical): 3
Overall Length: 192.98 feet (58.82 meters)
Overall Width: 197.83 feet (60.30 meters)
Overall Height: 55.45 feet (16.90 meters)

Weight (Empty): 242,508 lb (110,000 kg)
Weight (MTOW): 518,086 lb (235,000 kg)

Installed Power and Standard Day Performance

Engine: 2 x Pratt & Whitney PW4000 turbofan engines developing 70,000 lb thrust each.

Maximum Speed: 569 miles-per-hour (915 kilometers-per-hour; 494 knots)
Maximum Range: 3,728 miles (6,000 kilometers; 3,240 nautical miles)
Service Ceiling: 41,109 feet (12,530 meters; 7.79 miles)

Armament / Mission Payload


Global Operators (A-to-Z)

Australia; France; Germany; Luxembourg; NATO; Netherlands; Norway; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Singapore; South Korea; United Arab Emirates; United Kingdom

Series Model Variants

A330 MRTT - Base Series Designation; based ont he commercial A330 passenger line.
KC-30A - Australian Air Force Designation
KC-45A - Abandoned USAF in-flight refueler competitor.
Voyager KC2 - Royal Air Force designation; outfitted with 2 x Cobham 905E underwing refueling pods.
Voyager KC3 - Royal Air Force designation; outfitted with 2 x Cobham 805E Fuselage Refueling Unit (FRU) systems as well as 2 x Cobham 905E underwing pods.