The Ministry of Defence announced yesterday that it has chosen AirTanker Ltd as preferred bidder for the RAF’s Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme.
AirTanker, a consortium comprising Rolls Royce, EADS, Cobham and Thales beat a rival consortium led by Boeing and BAE Systems for the £13 billion contract.
‘We’ve gone head to head with Boeing in a market they consider their own, and with a product they considered they had a monopoly over, and AirTanker came out on top,’ said AirTanker chief executive, Robin Southwell.
The 27-year FSTA programme is planned to replace the RAF’s fleet of VC10 and TriStar Air Refuelling / Air Transport aircraft. Under a PFI contract, AirTanker would own and maintain the aircraft and provide training services, while the RAF would be responsible for military operations.
The MoD will now enter into negotiations with AirTanker to validate its proposal for the FSTA project, which is based on utilising Airbus A330- 200 aircraft fitted with Rolls Royce Trent engines. Half of the basic aircraft and all of its conversion work will be carried out in the UK.
‘We look forward to working constructively with the MOD to ensure a timely conclusion of contractual negotiations to ensure that the programme stays within budget and on track,’ commented Gordon Page, chairman of AirTanker.