Marshall Aerospace denies its proposal to provide a fleet of TriStars as an 'interim' solution to the RAF's urgent requirement for new tankers has been rejected or retracted.

Bob Ward, the company's director of Engineering, insists that there are "no technical issues" that would prevent the installation of underwing inflight refuelling pods "and never had been".

Ward told Flight Daily News: "We have a firm price proposal in front of the MoD to add underwing pods to the existing RAF TriStar fleet, and to nine additional aircraft. We are a risk-averse private company and we would not offer a fixed price if there was any risk of not being able to achieve what we have offered."

The Marshall plan covers the conversion of the RAF's six TriStar K1 and KC1 'single-point' tankers to three-point tanker configuration, with the three C2 and C2A transports and nine ex-Delta Airlines aircraft becoming two-point tankers.

An initial proposal to convert the TriStars to three-point tanker configuration was made in the late 1980s, when the MoD awarded Marshall a one-year project definition study. This was to have been followed by a contract to produce a trial installation, to 'productionise' the modification and achieve a Military Aircraft Release.

This contract would also have commissioned Marshall to produce a 'bidders package' before a production contract was competed.

The process promised to take nine years, which was too long for the customer, who turned instead to the conversion of surplus VC10s that had been bought for spares.

The initial bid failed, Ward said, "because of procurement problems, not technical problems. There was never any technical issue."

Ward denied that the TriStar's flexible wing or active ailerons made it difficult to install underwing pods. We've flown extensive trials, and it has been demonstrated that tanker clearances would present no problems."



Source: Flight Daily News