The UK's first Airbus A330-based Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) remains on track for its planned delivery to the Royal Air Force late this year, with the type having recently achieved another first during testing.

One of two A330-200s to have been modified for the UK at Airbus Military's Getafe site near Madrid, the aircraft is pictured trailing its two underwing hose and drogue refuelling lines, as well as one from its centreline fuselage refuelling unit.

The image was captured by a Spanish air force Boeing EF-18 fighter, which Airbus Military says was providing support during a recent handling qualities flight.

 FSTA three hoses - Airbus Military
© Airbus Military

"Two FSTAs are currently flying and the first is on schedule to transfer to the UK in the second quarter of the year to begin qualification flights with the specified receiver aircraft types, leading to first delivery towards the end of the year," the company says.

Fourteen modified A330s will enter RAF use under a private finance initiative deal with AirTanker, with the fleet to be flown from the service's Brize Norton base in Oxfordshire. AirTanker will open its new building on the site on 31 March, with the company's first aircraft due to enter operational use in October 2011.

Source: Flight International