The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has confirmed that AirTanker has been formally selected as the Preferred Bidder to meet the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) requirement for the Royal Air Force (RAF).
The £13bn Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) Private Finance Initiative (PFI) programme is an MOD Private Finiance Initiative (PFI) contract to provide air refuelling and air transport services to the RAF that will replace the RAF’s current fleet of VC 10 and TriStar aircraft.
The AirTanker Group is actually a consortium of five shareholders – EADS, Cobham, Rolls-Royce, VT Group and Thales. It will use a fleet of Airbus A330-200 aircraft each fitted with a comprehensive suite of Thales civil and military avionics, in flight entertainment and other military electronics systems.
Each A330 FSTA will be able to deliver 65 tonnes of fuel in their air-to-air refuelling role, at a distance of 1,000 miles from base, following up to two hours on station. Fuel can be offloaded through wing-mounted pods and hose-and-drogues.
All of the fuel, including that consumed by the A330 FSTA itself, is carried entirely within existing tanks in the wing and tail. This leaves the whole cabin free for some 295 seats in the A330 FSTA’s troop-transport role, and its entire cargo hold free to carry military equipment on pallets or in containers.
The aircraft themselves will be owned and supported by AirTanker while the RAF will have operational control and fly the military missions.