An Introduction to the A330 MRTT

As most of you may know by now the Republic of Singapore Air Force has confirmed its purchase of the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), known as the Voyager in the UK and KC-30 in Australia although its configuration is largely different. Although Mindef has not disclosed the total number of units bought, Airbus Defence and space has confirmed the six aircraft ordered by us.. This short article will introduce and familiarize yourself with the RSAF latest platform, figures are from Airbus Defence and Space , but analogy is taken from some sense and much research.

Credits: EADS

Credits: EADS

The Airbus A330 MRTT is based on the A330-200 commercial aircraft, a chat with some local airline guys suggest that the aircraft the reliable and has little maintenance issues. Singapore Airlines themselves fly 22 of such aircraft, but of the lengthened A330-300 version.

One advantage of the MRTT as its name suggest, its ability to be configured into different roles, from troop lift, medevac to cargo transport. Who knows, you could be traveling in a RSAF A330 to Exercise Wallaby in the future. Slightly larger than the KC135 but the ability to fly further, a typical payload of the MRTT is about 45 000kg/99 000 lb. To give an idea of its capacity, here is a list of its possible configuration;

Upper Deck

-380 Passenger or 300 Troops or

-130 stretchers, or

-28 stretcher, 6 ICU units , 120 Passengers or

-26 military pallets or

-”Air Force One style” compartments for VIP transport

Lower Deck 

-8 military pallets or

-27 standard commercial LD3 containers

Now imagine the multitude of roles the 112 Squadron will be involved in the future. But of course the primary function of the MRTT and 112 Squadron is Air to Air Refueling, (AAR), with 111 tonnes/ 245 000 lb of fuel, it carries 20% more fuel then its predecessor KC-135R, and will be a force multiplier for the RSAF.

The aircraft is capable of dispensing 132 300 lb of fuel while loitering for 5 hours on station, which is about topping five empty F-15SG without fuel tanks or about 22 empty F-16Ds. If fitted with a receptacle above the cockpit windows, the A330 can be refueled by its own type and virtually limitless in the skies.

The MRTT will therefore be instrumental in RSAF’s numerous overseas deployment, with its impressive endurance, we are looking at:

-Deployment of 4 fighters (F-16 size), and 12 tonnes of equipment over 2800 nm (5200km), eg Darwin, India and if you push it, possibly Beijing.

20140306074528-66186-map

-Deployment of 4 fighters without cargo over 3600 nm (6700km) eg, Afghanistan, Tokyo, Guam and pushin’ it to Sydney

20140306074557-66186-map

-30 Tonnes Cargo transport of 5500nm (10 200km) virtually anywhere in Asia, Australia and just reaching New Zealand.

All the figures above are based on the standard layout given by Airbus, and I will not be surprised if RSAF decides to convert the entire or part of the lower deck into a fuel compartment, increasing its operational and tanking capacity.

Six aircraft from the previous four KC-135R  would meant 112 Squadron will ;

1)Likely to take over the KC-130 for refueling duties thus leaving the Hercs to perform other operational and project duties.

2)The ability to orchestrate more overseas exercise and HADR deployments simultaneously, while supporting local RSAF operations.

3)Shorter turnover times between missions

4)Bigger and more realistic Mission Oriented Training

Delivery dates are yet to be confirmed, and it is not sure how much ST Aerospace will be involved in this program. Afterall, the Singapore firm is extremely familiar with Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul  (MRO) with this civilian type. Like the KC-135R, ST Aero will remain to be the flight line service crew/provider for the A330R. We are looking to see the A330 MRTT in 112 colours soon!

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