Saudi Arabia puts first A330 tanker into service

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Saudi Arabia has placed its first Airbus Military A330-200-based multirole tanker transports (MRTT) into operational use, with the type to be flown from its Riyadh air base.

Airbus Military says one MRTT was inducted into Royal Saudi Air Force service on 25 February, with this being the first of three examples "that have already been contractually delivered". Three more are also being produced under a follow-on contract, with deliveries to start in late 2014.

 

Airbus Military

Riyadh's first operational MRTT carries the service registration 2402. Powered by two General Electric CF6-80E engines, the platform is equipped with an aerial refuelling boom system and under-wing hose and drogue refuelling pods, enabling it to support the air force's Boeing F-15, Eurofighter Typhoon and Panavia Tornado combat aircraft. The Saudi aircraft can also carry up to 266 passengers, in a two-class configuration.

 

Airbus Military

Royal Saudi Air Force personnel have previously trained on the MRTT in Spain

Introduction of the new type supports an expansion in the Royal Saudi Air Force's inflight refuelling capabilities. The service's inventory already includes seven Boeing 707-derived KE-3A tankers delivered in 1987, says Flightglobal's MiliCAS database.

The service milestone in Saudi Arabia came just weeks after the early February delivery of the first of three MRTT aircraft to the United Arab Emirates. It was also followed on 27 February by the Royal Australian Air Force announcing that its fleet of five locally designated KC-30As had achieved initial operating capability. The A330-based tanker/transport is also in service as the Voyager with the UK Royal Air Force, which is using the type in a passenger transport role only.