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Fri, Mar 23, 2007

EADS Fits Australian A330 Tanker With Refueling Boom, Underwing Pods

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 team.

"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.

FMI: www.eadsnorthamerica.com

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