Aircraft / Aviation Vehicles & Artillery Infantry Arms Warships & Submarines Military Pay Scale Military Ranks

AirTanker Voyager (A330 MRTT)

In-Flight Refueling Tanker Aircraft (2012)

Aviation / Aerospace

1 / 3
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS imagery database.
2 / 3
Image from the United States Department of Defense DVIDS imagery database.
3 / 3
Image copyright www.MilitaryFactory.com; No Reproduction Permitted

Jump-to: Specifications

The Royal Air Force expects to lease some fourteen French Airbus A330 MRTT tankers under the Voyager KC2 and KC3 designations.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 07/02/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
The Royal Air Force had long since relied on a capable, though aging, fleet of Lockheed L-1011 TriStar and Vickers VC10 series aircraft to fulfill its inflight refueling requirement - essentially commercial passenger airliners modified for the battlefield role at hand. However, the L-1011 held roots in a 1970 design and the VC10 fared no better, originating in 1962. In 2004, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) authorized the procurement (under a 24-year lease agreement) of the French Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport), an all-modern militarized variant of the popular A330-200 passenger airliner (nearly 1,000 of the type have been built to date). The proven airframe would, of course, be properly modified for the inflight refueling role including the addition of drogue fuel dispensing underwing pods, specialized secure military-level communications equipment and defensive-minded countermeasures while doubling as a basic medium air transport with the refueling equipment removed. The initiative falls under the UK's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) program.

The initial MRTT was first flown on June 15th, 2007 and introduced by Airbus Military on June 1st, 2011. The Royal Air Force's (RAF) multi-year lease is through the UK-based parent company of AirTanker Ltd, a consortium made up of defense powers EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company), Rolls-Royce, Thales, Babcock and Cobham while the actual delivery falls under the AirTanker Aircraft Supply division (headed by EADS). The deal was formally inked on March 27th, 2008 with initial deliveries of new-build A330-200 MRTT bodies occurring at the end of 2011. While in the RAF inventory, the aircraft have not yet been cleared for active refueling service as of May 2013, leaving the aging L-1011s and VC10s to remain in active status. The platform will coordinate with the advanced Eurofighter Typhoons and older Panavia Tornados as well as other platforms currently in play for the RAF.

The RAF will receive two distinct versions of the aircraft under the designations of "Voyager KC2" and "Voyager KC3". While both will be similarly equipped with a pair of Cobham 905E series underwing drogue refueling pods, the KC3 will also include the Cobham 805E series Fuselage Refueling Unit (FRU), an underfuselage drogue installation - allowing for servicing of three aircraft at once. The aircraft will retain the basic A330 MRTT form and functionality which includes the forward-set flight deck, low-mounted wings and single vertical tail fin. The underwing pods will be affixed outboard of the engine nacelles in typical fashion and feature the UK-originated Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 series turbofan engines promising performance of 72,000lbs thrust each. Each aircraft will carry 240,000lbs of fuel up to 40,000 feet in altitude and feature loitering times nearing two hours. Currently (2013), there are a total of 14 Voyagers on order for the RAF with seven of these in the KC2 guise and the remaining seven outfitted as KC3s. Approximately three airframes were in the RAF charge at the beginning of the 2013 and it is expected that nine airframes will make up the completed fleet, the rest held in reserve and pulled online as needed.

The AirTanker / A330 MRTT endeavor is an interesting venture, allowing military air forces to lease critical logistically-minded aircraft as needed with shared costs between other powers of the world. As such, the RAF airframes may become available to other European powers through NATO in which maintenance and operating costs should be held in check over the 24-year term. The move comes at an interesting time for Europe where the lack of viable, proven inflight refuelers has showcased a strategic deficiency during faraway deployments such as that in the French intervention over Mali - a deficiency not currently shared by the massive United States Air Force.


Service Year

United Kingdom national flag graphic
United Kingdom

In Limited Service.


AirTanker Ltd - UK / Airbus Military - France
National flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Aerial Refueling (Tanker)
Dedicated or converted airframe used to deliver fuel to awaiting allied aircraft.

192.9 ft
(58.80 m)
197.8 ft
(60.30 m)
57.1 ft
(17.40 m)
Empty Wgt
275,578 lb
(125,000 kg)
513,677 lb
(233,000 kg)
Wgt Diff
+238,099 lb
(+108,000 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the base AirTanker Voyager (A330 MRTT) production variant)
Installed: 2 x Rolls-Royce Trent 772B turbofan engines developing 72,000lbs of thrust each.
Max Speed
547 mph
(880 kph | 475 kts)
41,339 ft
(12,600 m | 8 mi)
9,196 mi
(14,800 km | 27,410 nm)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the base AirTanker Voyager (A330 MRTT) production variant. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database. View aircraft by powerplant type)
None. Refueling equipment installed along with defensive countermeasures.

A330 MRTT - Base Series Designation under Airbus Military.
Voyager KC2 - Fitted with 2 x Cobham 905E underwing refueling pods.
Voyager KC3 - Fitted with 2 x Cobham 805E Fuselage Refueling Unit (FRU) systems as well as 2 x Cobham 905E underwing pods.

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

Ribbon graphics not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective aerial campaigns / operations / aviation periods.


Disclaimer | Privacy Policy | Cookies

2022 Military Pay Scale Army Ranks Navy Ranks Air Force Ranks Alphabet Code DoD Dictionary American War Deaths French Military Victories Vietnam War Casualties

The "Military Factory" name and MilitaryFactory.com 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 gmail.com.

Part of a network of sites that includes GlobalFirepower, a data-driven property used in ranking the top military powers of the world, WDMMA.org, the World Directory of Modern Military Aircraft, and SR71blackbird.org, detailing the history of the world's most iconic spyplane.

Facebook Logo YouTube Logo

www.MilitaryFactory.com • All Rights Reserved • Content ©2003-