Aircraft Undergoes Ground Vibration Testing
The Royal Australian Air Force's
first A330 Multi-role Tanker Transport (MRTT) was recently fitted
with a complete aerial refueling system, marking a major milestone
in the mission outfitting of the RAAF's newest aerial tanker.
Representatives with EADS tell ANN an advanced fly-by-wire
advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS) has been installed on
the A330 MRTT's fuselage centerline position, along with hose &
drogue refueling pods under each wing.
With installation of the boom and refueling pods, the first
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) A330 MRTT's electrical system has
been powered up and airframe vibration testing has begun. This will
clear the way for flight tests, followed by delivery to Australia
-- where the aircraft will ultimately enter service with the Royal
Australian Air Force's 33 Squadron.
The combination of a centerline-mounted boom and underwing hose
& drogue pods will enable the Royal Australian Air Force to
support its own fighters, strategic airlifters and AWACS assets,
while also offering full aerial refueling compatibility with other
US/NATO/allied military aircraft.
The A330 MRTT is a similar configuration to the Northrop Grumman
KC-30 Tanker, the company's proposed solution for the US Air Force
KC-135 tanker replacement. EADS North America is a principal
subcontractor to Northrop Grumman on the KC-30 Tanker industrial
"Installation of the refueling system is key milestone
completion and an important step forward in preparing the
Australian MRTT for flight test and delivery," said EADS North
America Chairman and CEO Ralph D. Crosby, Jr. "We look forward to
its future service introduction into the Royal Australian Air
Force, and also to competing with Northrop Grumman and the KC-30
Tanker team for the US Air Force tanker modernization program."
The EADS-developed centerline boom is an all-electric,
fly-by-wire system that provides highly accurate, reliable
in-flight refueling. Using a 3D-vision surveillance system, the
RAAF boom operator will remotely control ARBS operations from the
cockpit during air-to-air refueling.
The two underwing pods used on the A330 MRTT carry 96.6-ft. long
hoses, and are designed to offload fuel at a rate of up to 420
gallons per minute.
In addition to the five aircraft ordered for the Royal
Australian Air Force, the A330 MRTT has been chosen for the United
Kingdom's Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) requirement, and
by the United Arab Emirates for the aerial refueling needs of that
country's air force and air defense.
EADS states the A330 MRTT -- like the Northrop Grumman KC-30 --
provides exceptional capacity for in-flight refueling, plus full
flexibility in cargo delivery, passenger transport, aeromedical
evacuation and other missions.