Andrew Doyle/MUNICH

Germany is to become the first operator of Airbus A310s in the multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) configuration, having placed a DM250 million ($114 million) order for four conversions with an EADS Airbus (Germany)/Lufthansa Technik (LHT) consortium.

The German air force already operates a pair of A310 multi-role transports (MRTs) converted by the A310 MRTT Air Force Consortium, set up by EADS and LHT in 1996. It is due to take delivery of another two by the end of this year.

The four aircraft destined for Germany will be converted to the full MRTT specification in Hamburg between 2002 and 2004 through the installation of lower-deck fuel tanks and of wing-mounted, extendible refuelling hoses. The work will also involve fitting an operator's station behind the cockpit. The first delivery of an MRTT to Germany will be late 2003.

EADS and LHT hope the contract will kickstart potential export sales of the A310 MRT and MRTT versions, which they believe could be a cost-effective option for many air forces.

Maintenance support provision for the four German air force A310 MRTTs and the additional three unmodified A310s operated by the military is being outsourced to LHT.

Airbus signed an exclusive agreement with Raytheon in June 1999 to develop jointly and market the tanker version of the A310 MRTT which Raytheon has designated KC-310.

The company's Aircraft Integration Systems unit became the design authority for the modification and has responsibility for development and certification. The US company will either perform the conversions itself or provide kits to third parties. The KC-310 has already been bid to meet a Japanese tanker requirement.

Source: Flight International