PICTURES: UK's first FSTA tanker arrives in Spain for conversion

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The first Airbus A330-200 for the UK's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme has landed at Airbus Military's Getafe site near Madrid for conversion.

Modifications will include the addition of Cobham 905E under-wing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods on an initial two aircraft, plus additional mission equipment. The UK company will then prepare the programme's remaining 12 aircraft at its Bournemouth site in Dorset from 2011.

 

 

Both pictures © Airbus Military

Airbus Military will modify the programme's first two airframes at Getafe in a purpose-built hangar next to its current modification facility for the Royal Australian Air Force's A330-based KC-30A tanker/transport.

First flown on 4 June at Airbus's Toulouse plant in France, the first FSTA aircraft arrived at Getafe in its Royal Air Force colours, but carrying a temporary Spanish registration.

 
© Airbus Military

The UK's 14-strong FSTA fleet will be based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, and replace its Lockheed TriStar and Vickers VC10 tanker/transports from 2011. Its last modified aircraft should be delivered in 2016.

The FSTA service has been contracted to the EADS UK-led AirTanker consortium under a 27-year private finance initiative deal worth around £13 billion ($20.8 billion).