Lockheed Martin and Airbus have signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) to address future aerial-refuelling services for US defence customers.
Under the MoA, the companies will seek to fulfil the increasing demand for aerial refuelling and provide services intended for the next generation of tankers.
Lockheed Martin chairman, president and CEO Marillyn Hewson said: “Reliable and modernised aerial refuelling is an essential capability for our customers to maintain their global reach and strategic advantage.
“By combining the innovation and expertise of Airbus and Lockheed Martin, we will be well-positioned to provide the United States Air Force with the advanced refuelling solutions needed to meet 21st-century security challenges.”
The cooperative approach between the companies will primarily focus on support services for the Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (A330 MRTT).
The companies will jointly explore critical near-term air-refuelling requirements such as a fee-for-service structure for conceptualising the tanker of the future.
Airbus defence and space military aircraft head Fernando Alonso said: “The A330 MRTT has been selected by a dozen nations around the world. It is extensively proven in live operations and has been repeatedly praised by major airforces.
“We are convinced that the combination of Airbus’ tanker expertise with Lockheed Martin’s extensive US presence has the potential to provide highly effective solutions for current and future US military aerial refuelling requirements.”
The A330 is a military variant of the civilian Airbus A330-200 airliner. It is powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and is used to perform air-to-air refuelling without any additional fuel tanks, as well as cargo, troop transport and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions.