First Airbus A330 MRTT Tanker Aircraft of Republic of Singapore Air Force Arrives at Changi Air Base

The first Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft of the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) has arrived at Changi Air Base on Aug. 14.

In March 2014, Singapore announced an order for six new-generation A330 MRTTs to conduct air-to-air refuelling (AAR), as well as undertake civil transport and disaster relief missions.

RSAF currently operates a fleet of four re-engined Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker aircraft. They were originally built as a KC-135As for the U.S. Air Force but were modified with reliable, fuel-efficient CFM56 engines and the Boeing-developed Multi-Point Refueling System.

Even though the RSAF also has about five Lockheed Martin C-130B/H Hercules airlifters modified for the tanker role with refueling probes, they are not operationally utilized as the Air Force currently does not operate any aircraft equipped to receive fuel by probe-and-drogue refueling method.

The A330 MRTT is derived from the highly successful A330 commercial airliner and proven in-service as a tanker/transport with multi-role capability.

The large 111 tonnes/ 245,000 lb basic fuel capacity of the A330-200 airliner, from which it is derived, enables the A330 MRTT to excel in Air-to-Air Refuelling missions without the need for any additional fuel tank. This is the highest capacity of all tanker aircraft in service, even those which have additional fuel tanks in the cargo deck.

The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven air-to-air refuelling systems including an advanced Airbus Defence and Space Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), and/or a pair of under- wing hose and drogue pods, and/or a Fuselage Refuelling Unit. ARBS has a fast fuel flow rate of up to a maximum of 3600 kg/min (1200 US gal/min).

Due to its wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry up to 300 troops, or a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC).

With these capabilities, the A330 MRTT can support the deployment of 4 fighter aircraft plus 50 personnel and 12 tonnes of freight (luggage, spare parts and equipment) in one direct flight over 5200 km, e.g. from Europe to Afghanistan.

To-date, a total of 57 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by 11 nations (Australia, Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom), with two (Australia and Saudi Arabia) having already placed repeat orders.

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