The A330 MRTT can carry up to 111 tonnes of fuel; this is the highest capacity of all tanker aircraft. It has the capacity of offloading 50,000 kg of fuel to a broad range of receivers during a four-hour loitering mission at over 1,000 nm from its take-off point. PHOTO courtesy Airbus.
The Government of Canada has awarded Airbus Defence and Space with a contract for four newly-built Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft (MRTT) and for the conversion of five used A330-200s as part of a plan to strengthen Canada’s continental defence capabilities.
The current contract has an order value of approximately CAD $3 billion. Known as the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC), this new fleet of aircraft will replace the ageing CC-150 Polaris (A310 MRTT), operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF). The existing A310 fleet is being used to perform air-to-air refuelling operations, military and personnel and cargo airlift, medical evacuations, as well as strategic transport of Government of Canada officials.
“As the world’s most advanced multirole tanker aircraft, the A330 MRTT perfectly matches Canada’s needs to protect its sovereignty as well as to enhance operations both in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) as well as in NATO,” said Mike Schoellhorn, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space. “Canada achieves this enhancement of operations not only by improving interoperability with other allied A330 MRTT customer nations but also due to the aircraft’s technological primacy ahead of the global competition.”
The newly-built A330-200s will be assembled at the A330 aircraft Final Assembly Line in Toulouse, France. Scheduled to enter into conversion at A330 MRTT facilities in Getafe, Spain, in mid-2025, the first MRTT will be delivered to the RCAF in 2027.
Under the agreement, the A330 MRTTs will be equipped with both the hose and drogue and a boom as refuelling options, cybersecurity solutions and countermeasures. All of them could be installed with the also included Airbus Medical Evacuation kit solution, consisting of 2 Intensive Care Units and additional stretchers.
The contract covers a full suite of training services including the most advanced training devices such as the Full Flight Simulator to prepare and maintain crew readiness as part of the modernisation of the Canadian Armed Forces’ air operational training infrastructure.
Following an open procurement process, in April 2021, Airbus was selected as the only qualified supplier for the CC-150 tanker replacement. With 76 orders from 15 customers and able to carry up to 300 troops, the A330 MRTT accumulates 90 percent market share outside the U.S.A. and more than 270,000 flight hours. As a mature platform, the aircraft has been proven in combat in theatres of operations like the Middle East and the Eastern Flank in Europe, with interoperability, mission success and availability rates as highlights of its performance.
Airbus has been a major player in Canada’s aerospace sector for almost 40 years. The company employs over 4,000 people locally and sources approximately CAD $2 billion from Canadian companies.