Riyadh is to increase its fleet of A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft to 10 examples, after signing a four-unit order with Airbus Defence & Space.

Announced on 10 July, the deal marks the third MRTT acquisition for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), which has fielded six of the adapted widebodies via previous buys. Its current assets are powered by GE Aerospace CF6 engines.


Source: Craig Hoyle/FlightGlobal

The Royal Saudi Air Force already has six A330 MRTTs in operational use

Work to convert new-build A330-200s to the MRTT configuration will start in early 2026, with the activity to add a refuelling boom and underwing hose and drogue pods.

“They will enter into service and join the RSAF from 2027 to carry out air-to-air refuelling and transport missions,” Airbus’s defence unit says. Its contract also includes a logistics support package, spare parts and training services.

“This new order demonstrates the high level of customer satisfaction with the A330 MRTT,” says Jean-Brice Dumont, head of air power at Airbus Defence & Space. “This is the third contract signed by Saudi Arabia for the A330 MRTT,” he adds.

Airbus and rival Boeing had both identified a potential new Saudi tanker requirement during the World Defense Show in February 2024, with the RSAF needing to replace its aged Boeing 707-based KE-3As. The US airframer had proposed its 767-derived KC-46A.

Airbus has, meanwhile, disclosed that it signed an industrial participation agreement with Saudi Arabia’s General Authority for Military Industries in January 2024, “for the development and growth of the industrial ecosystem in the region”.

“This agreement also includes the transfer of technology and knowhow of the RSAF A330 MRTT to local companies,” the European company says. A new joint venture with Saudi Arabian Military industries, named SAAMS, “will be the main vehicle for industrial localisation”, it adds.

Saudi A330 MRTT WDS 2024

Source: Craig Hoyle/FlightGlobal

Local industrial participation will support Saudi Arabia’s ‘Vision 2030’ drive

Developing its domestic defence industrial capability is a key goal of Riyadh’s ‘Vision 2030’ programme to boost national capabilities.