Singapore Air Force’s New A330 MRTT Aerial Refueling Tanker Makes Public Debut at RSAF50 Parade

The Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF)’s newly acquired Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft made its first appearance at the 50th Anniversary parade at Tengah Air Base on Sept. 1 with a special commemorative livery.

The RSAF50 parade, officiated by Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong, was held to commemorate the RSAF’s formation on 1 September 1968. Following the parade, PM Lee toured the A330-MRTT aircraft and was briefed on its capabilities.

In March 2014, Singapore announced an order for six new-generation A330 MRTTs to conduct air-to-air refueling (AAR), as well as undertake civil transport and disaster relief missions. The first of the six aircraft arrived at RSAF’s Changi Air Base on Aug. 14.

The A330-MRTT has better endurance, cargo and passenger capacity, and ability to provide more fuel to other aircraft compared to the KC-135R aerial tankers, and will replace the ageing KC-135R. Its AAR capability will allow the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) to extend the endurance of our fighter aircraft to safeguard our skies, and also enable the RSAF to be more effective and capable in meeting our operational demands.

In addition, the platform provides the RSAF with greater operational flexibility and will enhance Singapore’s ability to contribute to international Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions and Peace Support Operations.

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).

The capability to refuel both drogue-refueled and boom-refueled platforms, will enhance the RSAF’s interoperability with other air forces.

Additionally, the A330-MRTT is equipped with the Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI), which allows it to receive fuel from another tanker aircraft. This will increase the endurance and range of the A330-MRTT to fulfill its mission during extended operations.

Apart from AAR operations, the A330-MRTT has the ability to carry up to 82,000 lbs (37,000 kg) of cargo or 266 personnel. This flexibility allows the aircraft to be configured expeditiously for a wide range of airlift missions. When required, the aircraft can also be equipped with medical equipment for aero-medical evacuation missions.

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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