Military Factory logo
Icon of F-15 Eagle military combat fighter aircraft
Icon of AK-47 assault rifle
Icon of Abrams Main Battle Tank
Icon of navy warships
Icon of a dollar sign
Icon of military officer saluting

Airbus KC-45 (KC-30)

Aerial Refueling Tanker / Utility Transport

Airbus KC-45 (KC-30)

Aerial Refueling Tanker / Utility Transport


With Northrop Grumman out, EADS took the lead to make their Airbus product the next aerial refueling tanker for the USAF - it failed.
National Flag Graphic
ORIGIN: France
YEAR: 2011
STATUS: Cancelled
MANUFACTURER(S): EADS (Airbus) - Netherlands / France; Northrop Grumman - USA
OPERATORS: Australia; United States (intended, cancelled)

Unless otherwise noted the presented statistics below pertain to the Airbus KC-45 (KC-30) model. Common measurements, and their respective conversions, are shown when possible.
LENGTH: 192.85 feet (58.78 meters)
WIDTH: 197.77 feet (60.28 meters)
HEIGHT: 57.09 feet (17.4 meters)
WEIGHT (EMPTY): 265,657 pounds (120,500 kilograms)
WEIGHT (MTOW): 507,063 pounds (230,000 kilograms)
ENGINE: 2 x General Electric GE CF6-80E1A4B turbofan engines developing 72,000 lbf thrust each.
SPEED (MAX): 547 miles-per-hour (880 kilometers-per-hour; 475 knots)
RANGE: 7,767 miles (12,500 kilometers; 6,749 nautical miles)
CEILING: 41,010 feet (12,500 meters; 7.77 miles)


Series Model Variants
• KC-45 - Base Series Designation
• KC-45A - Expected USAF First Block Production Designation.
• A330 MRTT ("Multi-Role Tanker Transport") - Militarized Airbus product of commercial A330 series.
• KC-30 - Northrop Grumman / EADS in-house model designation.


Detailing the development and operational history of the Airbus KC-45 (KC-30) Aerial Refueling Tanker / Utility Transport.  Entry last updated on 4/11/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The KC-45 is/was a joint proposal from primary contractor Northrop Grumman of the United States and subcontractor EADS (European Aeronautic Defense and Space Company N.V.) of the Netherlands to deliver a new aerial refueling tanker aircraft to the United States Air Force (USAF). The vehicle was intended to replace and, in effect, upgrade the current fleet of KC-135 Stratotankers in service. Northrop Grumman/EADS competed successfully against a similar proposal from The Boeing Company and was awarded an initial USAF order for 179 KC-45 examples. However, Boeing openly protested the selection process and a new competition was instituted in July of 2008. The move inevitably prompted Northrop Grumman to drop out of the competition citing favoritism towards Boeing on March 8th of 2010. Despite the lack of the Northrop Grumman presence, EADS has maintained that it was moving forward its KC-45 proposal - this announced on April 20th of 2010. A per unit cost of $200 million dollars is estimated with development of the KC-45 stemming from the existing Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) series gaining steam across Europe.

In the late 1990s, the USAF expressed a need to revamp their fleet of KC-135 systems. The KC-135 had been in operation since 1957 and went on to serve the long-reaching interests of the USAF for decades since while also having been invited into the inventories of the French, Singapore and Turkish air forces. Some 803 were ultimately produced by American-based manufacturer Boeing with production ending in 1965. The KC-135 was itself developed from the existing C-135 Stratolifter cargo aircraft, this aircraft also introduced into service in 1957.

The initial response to replacing the KC-135 was to refit existing Boeing 767-200 airframes for the aerial refueling role. The 767-200 model competed successfully against a modified French designed Airbus 330 series. The intent was for the USAF to lease the 767-200 airframes directly from Boeing as opposed to direct purchase and the aircraft would have been given the military designation of "KC-767". However, in January of 2006, acting US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld cancelled the KC-767 outright for budgetary concerns and elected instead to extend the KC-10 Extender and KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft series for the USAF for the short term. Later that year, the USAF submitted a requirement for a new aerial refueling tanker aircraft to meet the needs of the new battlefield. The requirement created the "KC-X" program with the goal of having a product finalized by the following year. The program would be accomplished in three distinct phases culminating with the delivery of the new fleet.

In the first phase, the Northrop Grumman KC-30 had successfully competed against the Boeing KC-767, this announcement coming on February 29th, 2008 from the US DoD. Not satisfied with the results, Boeing approached the Government Accountability Office (GAO) and submitted their formal protest of the selection. On June 18th, 2008, the GAO sided with the Boeing protest and refuted the DoD selection of the Northrop Grumman product, stating that the proper avenues of evaluation were not exercised during the selection process. On July 9th, 2008, it was announced that a new competition was to be held to reconsider both options but the KC-X proposal was eventually cancelled altogether by the US DoD on September 10th, 2008. The USAF began a new aerial tanker search announcing as much in September of 2009. By March of 2010, Northrop Grumman had bowed out of the competition in protest, leaving EADS to go at it alone.

The KC-30 (proposed USAF designation of KC-45A) was to be have been crewed by three personnel made up of two pilots and a rear-set boom operator. The advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS) can deliver 1,200 gallons per minute to awaiting aircraft. The airframe was to be powered by 2 x General Electric CF6-80E1A4B turbofan engines delivering up to 72,000lbf of thrust each. Maximum fuel capacity was in the vicinity of 245,000lbs with a listed maximum take-off weight of 507,063lbs. Maximum speed was reportedly 547 miles per hour with an operational range of some 7,770 miles and a service ceiling equal to 41,000 feet. Outward design was conventional, with a pair of low-set monoplane wings each supporting a single underslung engine. Each wing was extensively swept along the leading edge. The fuselage was conventional in shape, mimicking her Airbus 330 origins to a tee. The empennage was traditional with a low-set pair of horizontal planes and a vertical tail fin.

Had the Northrop Grumman/EADS product gone into production by way of the original DoD selection, the two firms would have spent some $600 million in construction of the needed assembly facilities in the United States. EADS has since launched a public-centered campaign in various media in support of their Airbus product, stating that the Boeing submission will cost the USAF 15% - 40% more in the long run. At least five A330 MRTTs are known to have been completed with evaluations ongoing by interested parties. At least four parties have committed to the A330 MRTT with Australia poised to become the world's first operator of the series in late 2010. The Airbus A330 MRTT has already completed its second flight for the Royal Air Force of Britain which have committed to procuring 14 examples to date with deliveries set to begin in late 2011.

UPDATE: On February 25th, 2011, the United States Department of Defense expectedly announced that the $3.5 Billion KC-X Engineering and Manufacturing Development contract had been awarded to The Boeing Company, thus ending the Airbus A330 MRTT initiative.


Our Data Modules allow for quick visual reference when comparing a single entry against contemporary designs. Areas covered include general ratings, speed assessments, and relative ranges based on distances between major cities.

Image of collection of graph types

Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (547mph).

Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Airbus KC-45 (KC-30)'s operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (0)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

Site Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Cookies  |  Site Map Site content ©2003-, All Rights Reserved.

The "Military Factory" name and logo are registered ® U.S. trademarks protected by all applicable domestic and international intellectual property laws. All written content, illustrations, and photography are unique to this website (unless where indicated) and not for reuse/reproduction in any form. Material presented throughout this website is for historical and entertainment value only and should not to be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation. We do not sell any of the items showcased on this site. Please direct all other inquiries to militaryfactory AT

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world.

Facebook Logo YouTube Logo