By Neeraj Mahajan
During the World War II beyond a certain range, allied bombers were like sitting ducks – exposed to enemy fire primarily because the fighter planes escorting them ran out of fuel and had to turn back leaving the bombers to fend for themselves. The basic drawback in those days was that mid-air refueling was not possible. Hence aircrafts particularly fighters could not fly long distances.
But now any kind of future air operations and aerial warfare cannot do without mid-air refueling. Thanks to mid-air refueling tankers, airplanes can fly longer distances without having to land and waste time on refueling.
This may be the reason why the Air Force of eight nations– France, United Kingdom, Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and India are going to one thing have in common– new generation Airbus Military A330 MRTT Multi Role Tanker Transport capable of midair refueling.
Around 50 A330 MRTT aircraft are currently in service in different countries and has been battle-proven in recent coalition actions. The United Kingdom has already ordered some 34 aircraft.
France, India and Qatar too have selected the A330 MRTT the most capable Tanker/ Transport currently available.
The A330 MRTT has won every major tanker aircraft procurement competition outside the USA since it has entered the market.
The new-generation A330 MRTT offers military strategic air transport as well as superior air-to-air refueling capabilities as well as current and future needs.
The three multi-role capabilities: in the single platform include:
- Aerial Refueling
- Passenger and/or freight transport
- Medical evacuation (MEDEVAC)
The A330 MRTT can perform all these roles in the same sortie without the need of reconfiguration. It is able to carry up to 111 ton lb of fuel in its wings. This allows the A330 MRTT to refuel any kind of aircraft without the need for any additional fuel tank, thus reducing the passengers or cargo carrying capacity.
Thanks to its wide-body fuselage, the A330 MRTT can be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry up to 300 troops, or a payload of up to 45 ton. Alternatively it can accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions.
The A330 MRTT is derived from the highly successful Airbus A330-200 airliner, a medium-to-long range, twin aisle, twin engine aircraft.