The first Airbus A330-200-based multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) to have been completed in an enhanced production configuration has been flown for the first time, ahead of its delivery next year.
Flown from Airbus Defence & Space’s Getafe site near Madrid on 30 September during a 3h debut sortie, the MRTT is the first to have been produced with a package of improvements introduced with the commercial A330, including upgraded avionics equipment and military systems, plus aerodynamic improvements which the company says result in a 1% fuel saving.
According to Airbus, the aircraft – already carrying its advanced refuelling boom system and under-wing hose and drogue pods – “performed in line with expectations”.
Airbus Defence & Space said earlier this year that its first enhanced tanker to fly would be the lead example from a six-unit order for the Republic of Singapore Air Force. Flight Fleets Analyzer records the tanker/transport – which carries the temporary Spanish registration EC-333 – as powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 772 engines.
The enhanced model represents the new build standard that also will be delivered to other future customers of the MRTT, which currently include France, South Korea and a consortium of NATO members.
To date, a combined 28 MRTTs have been delivered to the air forces of Australia, Saudi Arabia, the UK and the United Arab Emirates, with confirmed orders to increase the global fleet size to 51 over the coming years.