Richard Lambert wonders at "the logic of an all-large aircraft replacement strategy" for the UK Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) (Flight International, 24 February-1 March). He has a point if the requirement is simply for a tanker - the optimum design would be a long, thin fuselage combined with a long, thin wing.

However, the FSTA also has an air transport requirement. For the air-to-air refuelling role, the A330-200 is capable of carrying 111t of fuel in its existing fuel tanks (linked to up to three removable refuelling points). This allows the aircraft to carry 300 service personnel and eight NATO pallets in the air transport role without the need for an upper deck freight door.

The A330-200 multirole tanker transport (MRTT) should really be considered as a transport aircraft that can also carry out air-to-air refuelling. The savings to the Royal Air Force from procuring one aircraft to do both roles far exceed any theoretical costs of operating a "non-optimal" tanker. The only aircraft that could effectively compete in an open market with the A330-200 MRTT would be based on the 777 - currently Boeing's best-selling widebody. However, it would appear that internal industrial considerations have led Boeing to offer military platforms based on widebody models that are not selling so well.

Hal Calamvokis London, UK

Source: Flight International