The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) Airbus Military A330 MRTT future strategic transport aircraft (FSTA) has successfully completed its first contacts with a Tornado fighter.

Airbus Military said, “The two aircraft performed a series of dry contacts, by day and night, in late June / early July during a programme to formally qualify the Tornado to refuel from the FSTA in operational service.”

During the flight trials, Voyager’s Cobham 905E underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods were used at altitudes from 10,000ft to 30,000ft and at speeds ranging from 250kt to 325kt.

Wet contacts, in which fuel is actually passed from the tanker to the receiver, will commence shortly.

Under the FSTA programme, the RAF will receive 14 A330-200-based tanker transports through a private finance initiative deal with the AirTanker consortium replace Lockheed’s TriStars and Vickers VC10s by 2013.

The first aircraft will enter service on 1 November 2011 at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, UK.