Airbus Defense and Space (Airbus DS) has received the first A330-200 ‘green aircraft’ to convert it into an A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft for the Republic of Korean Air Force.
The aircraft will be the first of four tankers ordered by South Korea, which is the second Asian country to enrol in the A330 MRTT programme.
The aircraft was favoured over Boeing’s KC46 and Israel Aerospace Industries’ 767 multi-mission tanker transport (MMTT).
Work to transform the civilian A330 aircraft into an MRTT, which will include installation of refuelling systems and military avionics, will be carried out at the company’s facility in Getafe, Spain.
Airbus on-going MRTT development project manager Nadège Berthelemy and Airbus DS A330 MRTT Korea programme manager Alvaro Irisarri jointly said that the latest A330-200 version will be fitted with additional capabilities such as the CATIIIB Autoland and other military features.
The A330 MRTT was selected by South Korea in June 2015 as its future air-to-air refuelling and transport aircraft after an ‘open and objective competition’.
The tanker aircraft can carry up to 111t of fuel and is capable of offloading 50,000kg of fuel to a broad range of receivers during a 4-hour loitering mission at over 1,000nm from its take-off point.
It can simultaneously perform a variety of missions such as air-to-air refuelling, cargo and passenger transport as well as medical evacuation, Airbus DS stated.
According to Airbus, A330 MRTT can trail four Eurofighters, carry 50 maintenance personnel, as well as 12t of equipment over 2,800nm with a single flight.
The A330 MRTT features an advanced Airbus Defence and Space aerial refuelling boom system, and/or a pair of under-wing hose and drogue pods, and/or a fuselage refuelling unit.
Image: Work to convert A330-200 into A330 MRTT will be carried out in Getafe, Spain. Photo: courtesy of Airbus photo.