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Iberia to convert more A330 tankers

Iberia has received a new contract from Airbus Defence & Space for the conversion of three A330s to the multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) configuration.

Announced on the eve of the ILA Berlin show, the award extends a previous deal between the two organisations for a further three years, as each aircraft will require one year to convert to the air-to-air refuelling role.

Iberia’s technical management teams have handled similar conversions for the Royal Saudi Air Force.

The first aircraft from an initial trio of A330 MRTTs for Riyadh was handed over to its air force in February 2013, with deliveries now complete. A follow-on batch of three tankers has previously been described as due for delivery due late this year.

The Saudi aircraft are used to refuel a range of combat aircraft, including Boeing F-15s, Eurofighter Typhoons and Panavia Tornados. It is thought that the latest conversion contract is for the second Saudi batch, although Iberia does not make mention of the eventual customer in its announcement.

A330 MRTTs have also been sold to the Australia, Singapore, the UK and the United Arab Emirates.

Conversion to the military role requires the complete internal dismantling of the aircraft’s cabin, installation of structural alterations and mission-specific equipment.

The latest three aircraft being converted by Iberia will have a three-point refuelling layout, with two hose-and-drogue units beneath the wings plus a fly-by-wire-controlled boom on the centreline. They will also receive a refuelling point so that they can also receive fuel from other tankers.

This type of work forms part of Iberia’s strategy to diversify its business area and include products with added value and greater technological complexity.

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