Airbus Military has performed the first flight of a modified A330 multi-role tanker transport for the United Arab Emirates, less than one month after achieving the same milestone for Saudi Arabia.

Flown from the company's Getafe site near Madrid on 9 April, the aircraft is the first of three on order for the UAE air force, which signed for its MRTT fleet in February 2008.

"The crew reported that the aircraft, its systems and two Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines performed entirely satisfactorily during the 2h 55min flight," says Airbus Military.

"As it features some different avionics, and is the first 'receiver' to be powered by the Rolls-Royce Trent engine, the UAE A330 MRTT now enters the certification and qualification phase for these new elements," the company says.

 UAE A330 tanker - Airbus Military
© Airbus Military

It expects to hand over the aircraft before the end of this year for final testing, with the UAE scheduled to formally take delivery of the tanker in the second quarter of 2012.

Unlike those A330 tankers also on order for Australia, Saudi Arabia and the UK, the UAE's aircraft will be delivered with a commercial airline-standard, two-class cabin configuration. With room for 262 passengers, its examples will have the same layout and equipment as Etihad Airways' A330-200s.

The UAE has a detachment of 12 six Dassault Mirage 2000-9s and six Lockheed Martin F-16s deployed at Decimomannu air base in Sardinia as part of NATO's Operation Unified Protector, which is enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya. Its air force currently lacks in-flight refuelling aircraft to support such activities.

Source: Flight International