Airbus A330 MRTT Performs “Wet Contacts” With Two F-18 Fighters


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Airbus A330 MRTT Performs “Wet Contacts” With Two F-18 Fighters

Shane Nolan

January 27, 2011 - The Airbus Military A330 MRTT has successfully passed fuel to receiver aircraft using the Fuselage Refueling Unit (FRU) for the first time – meaning that all of the aircraft’s refueling systems have now been demonstrated. 

In a three hour 10 min sortie from Getafe near Madrid on 21st January, the Future Strategic Transport Aircraft (FSTA) variant for the UK Royal Air Force conducted a series of “wet contacts” with two F-18 fighters of the Spanish Air Force. 

Contacts were successfully performed with both fighters at an altitude of around 15,000ft and at speeds from 250kt to 325kt. 

The FRU is a hose and drogue similar to those fitted under the wings, but with a higher rate of fuel transfer, and which is also developed and supplied by Cobham of the UK.

The full complement of refueling systems which can equip the A330 MRTT, and which have now all been demonstrated, consists of the FRU, the underwing hose-and-drogue, and the Airbus Military Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS), plus the Universal Aerial Refueling Receptacle Slipway Installation (UARRSI) used to receive fuel from another tanker. 

Head of Airbus Military Derivatives Antonio Caramazana said “this demonstration of the last of the A330 MRTT’s refueling systems clearly positions it as the most capable, flexible and proven transport tanker available to the world’s air forces today. We now look forward to conducting the first contacts with Royal Air Force fighters in the coming months.” 

Having received its supplemental type certificate from European civil certification Authority EASA in March 2010 and military certification from Spanish Authority INTA in October, the Airbus Military A330 MRTT is one of the new generation strategic tanker transport aircraft flying and available today.

The large 111 ton 245,000 LBS basic fuel capacity of the successful A330-200 airliner, from which it is derived, enables the A330 MRTT to excel in Air-to-Air Refueling missions without the need for any additional fuel tank. The A330 MRTT is offered with a choice of proven air-to-air refueling systems including an advanced Airbus Military Aerial Refueling Boom System, and/or a pair of under-wing hose and drogue pods, and/or a Fuselage Refueling Unit. 
Thanks to its true wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT can also be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry 300 troops, or a payload of up to 45 ton, 99,000 LBS. It can also easily be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC). To-date, a total of 28 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by four customers (Australia, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom), with one (Saudi Arabia) having already placed a repeat order.

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