The Algerian Air Force (AAF) has completed field trials of Airbus Military’s A330 multirole tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft at Boufarik Air Force Base in Blida Province, Algeria.
Carried out using an airframe destined for the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) earlier this month, the trials form part of the air force’s efforts to replace its ageing Russian-built Ilyushin Il-78 Midas air-to-air refuelling tanker fleet, as reported by Aviation Week.
The flight testing follows in-flight evaluations of Boeing’s C-17 Globemaster III military transport aircraft as a potential replacement for the service’s Il-76 Candid multi-purpose strategic airlifter fleet in April.
The introduction of the A330 tanker into AAF’s operational service is expected to be relatively easy, as the service already flies Airbus A340-500 aircraft for VIP transport missions.
Despite local websites publishing images to confirm the aircraft’s presence at the base, Airbus Military refused to comment on the trials, and instead directed the queries to the Algerian defence ministry.
Powered by two General Electric CF6-80E engines, the A330 MRTT is a military variant of the civilian Airbus A330-200 airliner, and is designed to perform air-to-air refuelling without any additional fuel tanks, as well as cargo, troop transport and medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions.
Capable of carrying 256 passengers, the aircraft can be fitted with Airbus Military aerial refuelling boom system (ARBS) to refuel receptacle-equipped aircraft, Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods for probe-equipped aircraft, and a Cobham 805E fuselage refuelling unit (FRU) for large probe-equipped aircraft.
A universal aerial refuelling receptacle system installation (UARRSI) may be integrated for self in-flight refuelling missions.
Currently operational with the Royal Australian Air Force, the aircraft has also been ordered by the air forces of Saudi Arabia, UAE and the UK.
Image: The Royal Australian Air Force’s A330 MRTT aircraft stationed at Brisbane Airport in Australia. Photo: Courtesy of Peter Ellis.