The Canadian government has awarded Airbus with a C$3bn ($2.1bn) contract for four newly-built Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport aircraft (MRTT) and for the conversion of five commercial A330-200 aircraft.
The deal is prompted by the Canadian Air Force’s desire to establish a Strategic tanker transport Capability (STTC) in order to strengthen the country’s continental defence capabilities.
According to GlobalData’s ‘Canada Armed Forces Equipment Inventory’ (2022), there are two active CC-150 Polaris (A310 MRTT) units in Canada’s tanker ageing tanker fleet, which were procured from 1992. The air force’s second tanker fleet includes four active KC-130H tankers procured in 1991. This legacy fleet continues to perform air-to-air refuelling operations, military and personnel and cargo airlift, medical evacuations, as well as strategic transport of Government of Canada officials.
Global use of the A330 tanker
“As the world’s most advanced multi-role tanker aircraft, the A330 perfectly matches Canada’s needs to protect its sovereignty as well as to enhance operations both in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) as well as in Nato,” said Mike Schoellhorn, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space. “Canada achieves this enhancement of operations not only by improving interoperability with other allied A330 MRTT customer nations but also due to the aircraft’s technological primacy ahead of the global competition.”
In January 2004, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the selection of the AirTanker consortium to provide air-to-air refuelling services for the British Army, Navy and Air Force, under the future strategic tanker aircraft (FSTA) programme. The new tanker transporters, known as Voyager in the RAF service, replaced the RAF’s fleet of 26 VC-10 and Tristar tanker aircraft.
In addition to the UK, the aircraft is operated by several other countries. Airbus received orders for 61 aircraft and has delivered 48 aircraft to date.
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In April 2004, Australia also selected the A330-200 MRTT for the AIR 5402 requirement for five aircraft. The MRTT, designated the KC-30B, replaces Australia’s Boeing 707 tanker transporters.
The United Arab Emirates selected the A330 MRTT in February 2007 and announced the procurement of three A330-200 MRTT aircraft in 2008.