The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is to take delivery of the fifth and last A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft from Airbus Military.

Designated the KC-30A by the RAAF, the aircraft was converted from an Airbus A330 civilian aircraft by Qantas Defence Services (QDS) in Brisbane, Australia, and is scheduled to be operated by the No. 33 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley for contingency missions.

Airbus Military Derivative Programmes vice president Antonio Caramazana said the delivery confirms the A330 MRTT as the world’s only certified and operating new generation tanker/transport.

The company is now expecting declaration of the aircraft’s initial operating capability (IOC) in the very near future, Caramazana added.

RAAF Air Lift Group commander air commodore Gary Martin said the aircraft has provided satisfactory tanking experience while conducting routine refuelling missions with F/A-18A and B fighters, and is scheduled to achieve IOC before the end of 2012.

”The KC-30A makes a tremendous contribution to Australia’s need to move large numbers of personnel and cargo over long distances, both domestically and throughout the Asia Pacific region,” Martin added.

Powered by two General Electric CF6-80E engines, the A330 is a dual-role air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft capable of simultaneously performing aerial refuelling, passenger or freight transport, and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions.

In RAAF service, the aircraft is equipped with two underwing refuelling pods, the fly-by-wire Airbus Military aerial refuelling boom system (ARBS), and a universal aerial refuelling receptacle slipway installation (UARRSI) that enables it to refuel from another tanker.

The four aircraft are currently operated by 33 Squadron RAAF for cover hose-and-drogue refuelling and strategic transport of passengers.

The A330 MRTTs have also been ordered by Saudi Arabia, the UK and UAE.

Image: a Royal Australian Air Force’s KC-30A aircraft stationed at Qantas conversion facility at Brisbane Airport. Photo: courtesy of Peter Ellis.