Australia opts for EADS

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) has been selected as the preferred bidder for the Royal Australian Air Force’s fleet of new air-to-air refuelling aircraft.

The European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) has been selected as the preferred bidder for the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) fleet of five new air-to-air refuelling aircraft.

Australia’s Defence Minister Robert Hill said the government had selected the EADS A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport Aircraft to replace the RAAF’s Boeing 707 aircraft in a project worth approximately $2 billion.

“The five new aircraft will be capable of refuelling F/A-18, F-111, Airborne Early Warning and Control and Joint Strike Fighter aircraft,” Senator Hill said.

“They will also have a significant strategic air lift capacity when not engaged in aerial refuelling tasks, including the ability to carry 293 passengers and a significant amount of cargo.”

The A330 MRTT is derived from the Airbus A330 and will be equipped with flying boom air-to-air refuelling technology (ARBS) currently under development by EADS. Delivery of the first aircraft is scheduled for 2007.

The basic aircraft will be constructed in Europe, with four of the five having refuelling modifications installed and integrated by Qantas in Brisbane. Qantas Defence Services will also conduct through life support of the aircraft in Australia.

“With our A330 MRTT we have succeeded twice after tough competition in only three months,” commented EADS CEOs Philippe Camus and Rainer Hertrich.

“The decisions by the RAF in Britain and the Australian Defence Forces in favour of our proposal are a clear proof that the A330 MRTT is the ideal platform for next generation tanker aircraft with both a flying boom and hose and drogue air refuelling technology,” they added.