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EADS CASA Receives First A330 For RAAF Tanker Conversion

EADS CASA announced Friday it received the first A330 platform from Airbus at its Madrid facilities for conversion into a Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) for the Royal Australian Air Force.

As Aero-News reported, the airframe rolled off the assembly line at Airbus at the end of April. EADS CASA will ultimately supply five of the air-to-air refueling aircraft, as well as associated training and support systems, under the $1.4 million Australian contract signed at the end of 2004.

"We are very proud of the Royal Australian Air Force selected EADS CASA for its very demanding air to air refueling program. This is just the beginning of a fruitful and long term collaboration", said Fernandez Sainz, Chairman of EADS CASA. "We have developed the new Air Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) that is going to place EADS as a key player in the world tanker market in the future ", added Fernandez Sainz.

The new MRTTs will be capable of refueling F/A-18, F-111, and AWACS aircraft, as well as others. The A330 MRTT also has the ability to carry up to 272 passengers, and a combination of commercial and military cargo pallets.

The aircraft will enter service with the RAAF before the end of 2009... and, possibly, with the US Air Force soon thereafter.

Many officials in the United States Air Force will be keeping their eyes on the development of the MRTT... as it is one of two aircraft being considered by the USAF to replace the stalwart but aging fleet of KC-135 tankers.

FMI: www.eads.int, www.airbus.com

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