The Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft will receive automatic air-to-air refuelling (A3R) capability.

This capability development will be carried out as part of the collaboration between Airbus and Singapore.

The A330 SMART MRTT programme will involve the development, certification and implementation of A3R capability.

Additionally, the programme will focus on improved maintenance solutions for the A330 MRTT. It is aimed at improving the overall mission efficiency and increasing the success rate.

Airbus Military Aircraft head Alberto Gutiérrez said: “With this agreement, the Singapore Air Force leads the evolution of the A330 MRTT, helping us to bring new hands-off capabilities to the benchmark of next-gen tanker operations.”

A Singapore A330 MRTT will participate in the development programme that also includes a flight test campaign and final certification.

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The flight tests have commenced, with certification expected next year.

The A3R system has been designed to decrease the workload of air refuelling operators (ARO) and enhance operational safety. It also seeks to enhance the AAR rate while increasing the overall aerial superiority.

When ARO activates A3R, the Boom Flight Control System autonomously starts refuelling the receiver aircraft upon contact.

Since the A3R needs no modification for use, the system can safely disconnect and/or clear the Boom from the receiver in the event of a disruption or faulty functioning.

For smoother fuel transitioning, pilots on the receiver end refer the automated Pilot Director Lights (PDL). This allows efficient mission completion with minimum operation time.

In July 2018, Airbus demonstrated A3R system capability to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) using a large receiver aircraft for the first time.