It is derived from the best-selling A330 widebody twin-engine commercial airliner, and excels in the full range of operational tanker mission scenarios. The aircraft also has designed-in flexibility for cargo, passengers and aeromedical evacuation. It combines advanced avionics with Airbus’ proven fly-by-wire control system and the most up-to-date manufacturing techniques, enabling the lowest operating costs.
The A330 MRTT can directly support a fighter squadron's deployment by carrying its operational personnel and equipment while also performing refuelling escort for the squadron's combat aircraft to an overseas base. This allows the fighter squadron to deploy as a unit, and then quickly ramp up to a combat-level sortie rate after arrival.
In addition, the A330 MRTT is perfectly suited to undertake additional missions for current and future military forces’ requirements. Its large cabin provides volume for additional mission equipment, and the onboard power system can accommodate add-on loads such as multifunction automated relay terminals (SMART).
The A330 MRTT’s significant fuel capacity (111 tonnes/245,000 lbs.) – combined with high offload rates – ensures that all receiver aircraft can be refuelled efficiently and quickly. Multi-point refuelling allows the A330 MRTT to top off several receiver aircraft simultaneously. Its state-of-the-art Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) from Airbus Defence and Space’s combined with Cobham hose and drogue refuelling systems, provide the unique capability to service probe-equipped and slipway-equipped aircraft during the same mission.
One of the A330 MRTT’s advanced technology features is its all-electric Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), which provides highly accurate, reliable in-flight refuelling. Developed by Airbus Defence and Space specifically for the A330 MRTT, the under-fuselage centreline ARBS is the only new-generation boom, and allows the fastest fuel transfer (4,600 litres per minute) – greatly reducing the refuelling operation time.
Modern fly-by-wire technology incorporated in the centreline ARBS provides enhanced controllability and includes an automatic load alleviation system that greatly aids the boom operator – as well as the receiver aircraft's pilot – during refuelling operations.
The A330 MRTT also carried two all-digital Cobham 905E hose and drogue pods under the wings, which can simultaneously refuel two probe-equipped receiver aircraft. In addition, a Cobham 805E hose and drogue under-fuselage refuelling unit can be installed for additional fuel transfer capability.
These air-to-air refuelling (AAR) systems are controlled from a state-of-the-art Fuel Operator Console integrated in the cockpit, and they make the A330 MRTT interoperable with NATO and allied aircraft on the same mission – without downtime needed for reconfiguration.