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Airbus tops up A330 tanker backlog

Airbus closed 2017 with the formal receipt of an order for five A330-200s to be adapted to the multirole tanker/transport (MRTT) configuration to equip a future pooled European fleet.

Confirmed as Airbus announced its commercial orders data for last month on 15 January, the order – from the company's defence unit – increases to seven the number of A330 MRTTs to be acquired under a multinational initiative championed by the European Defence Agency.

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Airbus Defence & Space

The five-aircraft commitment follows an initial order for two tanker/transports, placed via Europe's OCCAR defence procurement agency following an agreement with Luxembourg and the Netherlands, and was enabled by the addition of Germany and Norway to the multinational MRTT fleet programme. Airbus Defence & Space had announced its receipt of a contract for the five tanker/transports last September.

Deliveries will run between 2020 and 2022, although numbers could be increased to 11 aircraft, pending the addition of further nations.

Belgian media reports in late December indicated that Brussels has also confirmed its intention to participate in the initiative, and its inclusion would boost the fleet size to eight aircraft.

Meanwhile, Airbus Defence & Space detailed the status of two other A330 MRTT contracts in mid-December. The company confirms that deliveries will commence for Singapore and South Korea this year, and refers to "imminent entry into service for both countries".

Singapore has ordered six MRTTs, while South Korea will introduce a four-strong fleet of the type. The nations will follow Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UK and the United Arab Emirates in fielding the adapted widebody, which is also on order for the French air force.

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