One of the highest profile aircraft at last week’s LIMA showwas the RAAF Airbus KC-30A (A330 multi role tanker transport). This was thefirst time the aircraft travelled abroad under the Australian flag. Its crewprovided a comprehensive update of the type’s introduction into RAAF service.
During the show the aircraft received delegations fromSingapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia. Of these, the Republic of Singapore AirForce (RSAF) is a star candidate for the aircraft since it will eventually needto replace its aging KC-135s. Singapore has plenty of troops abroad at anygiven time, and a few A330 MRTTs would be just the thing for moving them around.
Government-owned Singapore Airlines is also a major operatorof the A330. Eventually the 787 will replace SIA’s A330 fleet, making a goodnumber of the type available for conversion to MRTTs. Someone at the show told me the Singaporeans showed ‘great interest’ in the KC-30A, and the aircraft may come tothe Singapore Airshow in February.
The remarkable thing about the KC-30A was not how much hasbeen changed to convert the aircraft to a tanker, but how little. The cabin hasa typical A330 layout. There are no additional fuel tanks, and the fuelcapacity is the same as a typical A330-200.
One notable difference is a hatch in the aft cabin that leads tothe cargo deck. Here one finds a locker where the crew can store items (wheelchocks, ground equipment, etc.) that may not be available in all locations. Thecockpit also has two fuel operator stations facing the rear. The seats can beturned 180 degrees to look forward during take offs and landings.
Externally there are a number of differences, not least theboom and refuelling pods beneath the wings. Beneath the fuselage there wereseveral camera emplacements for the fuel operators to guide tanking operations.There were also blisters for a directional infrared counter measures (DIRCM)system, which has yet to be installed on the aircraft.