The A330 MRTT has been ordered by Australia, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. Australia was the launch customer for the A330 MRTT.
The refuelling aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is equipped with both an Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and two Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods. The aircraft are powered by two General Electric CF6-80E engines. Australia was initially to procure four aircraft with an option to obtain a fifth. It has since decided to procure the fifth aircraft to allow for two simultaneous deployments of two aircraft, with the fifth for contingency coverage. Australia's A330 MRTT aircraft will be operated by No. 33 Squadron RAAF based at RAAF Base Amberley. Australia has designated the aircraft KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport.
Upon selecting the A330 MRTT in 2005, the RAAF expected that deliveries would begin in late 2008 and be completed in 2010. Deliveries have since been two years behind schedule, in part because of delays in the development of the boom. On 30 May 2011, KC-30A A39-003, the third converted A330, arrived at RAAF Base Amberley and was formally handed over to the RAAF on 1 June 2011. The second A330 conversion, A39-002 was ferried to RAAF Amberley on 18 June 2011 and handed over to the RAAF on 22 June 2011. In June 2010, Qantas Defence Services announced receipt of the fourth aircraft to its Brisbane facilities, with an anticipated 10-month conversion. The final fifth A330 MRTT aircraft was delivered to RAAF on 3 December 2012.
In July 2013, it was reported there were ongoing delays with preparing the KC-30A for full entry into service due to problems with the refuelling systems, including the hose-and-drogue system passing too much fuel.
In August 2013 the KC-30A made its debut as a VIP transport, ferrying Prime Minister Rudd and an entourage to Al Minhad Air Base, United Arab Emirates.
In August 2014, Defence Minister David Johnston announced the intention to purchase two additional KC-30As with one in VIP configuration for transport of the Prime Minister.
On 22 September 2014 the RAAF deployed an Air Task Group to a staging base at Al Minhad Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, as part of a coalition to combat Islamic State forces in Iraq. The aircraft included F/A-18F Super Hornets, a KC-30A tanker transport and an E-7A Wedgetail airborne early warning and control aircraft. The KC-30 started operations just days after arriving in the UAE by aerial refueling US and other coalition aircraft over Iraq. On 6 October 2014, the RAAF started their first combat missions over Iraq with two Super Hornets supported by the KC-30 tanker.
In January 2004 the UK Ministry of Defence announced that a variant of the A330 MRTT had been selected to provide tanking service for the RAF for the next 30 years under the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) programme, replacing the RAF's existing L-1011 and VC10 tankers. The Ministry of Defence then began negotiations with the AirTanker consortium.
On 27 March 2008 the UK Ministry of Defence signed a deal to lease 14 aircraft under a private finance initiative arrangement from EADS-led consortium AirTanker, with the first aircraft to enter service in 2011. There are two versions, designated Voyager KC2 and Voyager KC3; the former will be fitted with two Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods, the latter with a Cobham 805E Fuselage Refuelling Unit (FRU) in addition to the under-wing pods. None of the RAF aircraft are fitted with the Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS). Both versions of Voyager are powered by a pair of Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 engines.
As of May 2014 nine aircraft have been delivered, completing the "core fleet" of RAF aircraft. By August 2014, ten have been delivered with one for civilian purposes. The remaining deliveries are to be a "surge capability", available to the RAF when needed, but otherwise available to Airtanker for tasks such as "release to the civil market, less its military equipment or to partner nations in a military capacity with the MoD’s agreement".
United Arab Emirates
In 2007, the United Arab Emirates announced it had signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus to purchase three A330 MRTT. EADS, Airbus's parent company, announced the signing of a contract with UAE in February 2008.
The UAE aircraft will be equipped with both an ARBS and two Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods. The ARBS units installed on the these tankers include a secondary boom hoist developed for the UAE. This system permits the boom to be retracted, even in the event of a primary boom retraction system failure. The United Arab Emirates Air Force selected the Rolls-Royce Trent 700 for its tankers.
The first A330 MRTT for the UAE was delivered on 6 February 2013. The remaining two had been delivered by 6 August 2013.
Saudi Arabia finalised an agreement to purchase three A330 MRTT equipped with both an Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and two Cobham 905E under-wing refuelling pods, on 3 January 2008. In July 2009 it was announced that Saudi Arabia ordered three additional A330 MRTT tankers. RSAF chose the General Electric CF6-80 to power its A330 MRTTs.
As of 31 August 2013 three aircraft have been delivered. On 25 February 2013 the first A330 MRTT has been placed in operational use. Three more A330 MRTTs have been ordered in a follow-on contract. Delivery is expected in late 2014.
In February 2012, Singapore also expressed interest in the A330 MRTT to replace its four KC-135s. The Republic of Singapore Air Force selected the A330-200 MRTT in February 2014 over the Boeing KC-46. Signature of the contract for six aircraft was announced by Airbus on 7 February 2014. These aircraft will be fitted with Trent 772B engines and be delivered from 2018.
In November 2011, France expressed interest in acquiring 14 A330 MRTT aircraft to replace its KC-135 tankers, A340 and A310 transports. In December 2011, France decided in principle to replace its KC-135 tankers, A340 and A310 transports with A330 MRTTs, and in October 2012 announced that they would order 14 in 2013. In 2013, Livre Blanc cut the requirement to 12 aircraft. In May 2013, Airbus made an offer for 12 to 14 A330 MRTTs to France.
On 20 February 2014, French Chief of Staff identified that France would acquire 12 A330 MRTTs. These will consist of two batches, initially the standard configuration with a boom and wing refuelling pods and later with a cargo door and SATCOM. On 20 November 2014, French Air Force Minister announced an agreement to order 12 refuelling aircraft.
The Airbus 330 MRTT and Il-78 were competing for a global tender floated in 2006 by the Indian defence ministry for six refuellers to extend the operating radius of Indian fighter jets. In May 2009, India finally chose the Airbus A330 MRTT over the Il-78. However in January 2010, the government cancelled the order citing high cost as the reason, reportedly against the wishes of the Air Force.
After rebidding, India selected Airbus as its "preferred vendor" in November 2012. In January 2013, it was reported that India had again selected Airbus' A330MRTT as "preferred bid".
In February 2015 Defenseworld.net quoted Airbus officials that negotiations with Indian Air Force has been completed and the contract will be signed after Aero India 2015.
On 27 March 2014 Airbus announced that the Qatar Emiri Air Force intends to purchase two A330 MRTTs.
Spain's Ministry of Defence stated that it is to acquire two A330 MRTT in 2016 to replace its ageing Boeing 707 tankers. In 2014, Spain's Secretary of State for Defence, stated that the Ministry of Defence began negotiations with Airbus Defence and Security about swapping their excess order for 13 Airbus A400Ms for an undisclosed number of Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft. Airbus Defence and Security commercial director said that although being a difficult issue, the company will cooperate with Spain in order to find possible solutions to reach an agreement.
According to the 2015 new defence plan, the Belgian Ministry of Defence intends to buy three A330 MRTT's. The Belgian government is investigating the € 840 million plan of minister Steven Vandeput as well as the option of equipping the ordered Belgian A400M fleet of seven planes with under-wing pods. A combined Belgian A330 MRTT and A400M fleet would cost up to € 1 billion.
In 2013, The Netherlands expressed interest in the A330 MRTT to replace its two KDC-10s. Through the European Air Transport Command, a study was conducted to stndardise and expand the European Air Refuelling capability, The Netherlands was lead nation for the study involving a.o. Norway and Poland. In December 2014 it was announced that the Netherlands Air Force had selected the Airbus A300-MRTT to replace their KDC-10 in 2020. Negotiations with Airbus are ongoing to order four aircraft, to be stationed at Eindhoven Airbase for use by the Netherlands, Poland and Norway.
The A330-based tankers lost in a bid for the Brazilian Air Force KC-X2 Program. Instead IAI won the contract for two 767-300ER tanker conversions.
The US Air Force (USAF) ran a procurement program to replace around 100 of their oldest KC-135E Stratotankers, i.e., initially excluding the more common updated KC-135R variant. EADS offered the A330 MRTT. The Boeing KC-767 was selected in 2002; however the USAF cancelled the KC-767 order upon the uncovering of illegal manipulation and corrupt practices during the competition.
In 2006, the USAF released a new request for proposal (RFP) for a tanker aircraft, which was updated in January 2007, to the KC-X RFP, one of three acquisition programs that are intended to replace the entire KC-135 fleet. The Airbus A330 MRTT was proposed again by EADS and Northrop Grumman as the KC-30. It again competed against the Boeing KC-767, which is a smaller aircraft (holds about 20 percent less fuel), less cargo, but is also cheaper. Northrop and EADS announced plans to assemble the aircraft at a new facility in Mobile, Alabama, which would also build A330 freighters.
The Air Force announced on 29 February 2008, that the KC-30 was chosen as the KC-135 replacement, and was designated KC-45A. On 18 June 2008, the United States Government Accountability Office upheld a protest by Boeing on the award of the contract to Northrop Grumman and EADS. This left the status of the KC-45A in doubt, requiring the Air Force to rebid the contract.
On 24 September 2009, the USAF began the first steps in the new round of bids, with a clearer set of criteria. On 8 March 2010, Northrop Grumman withdrew from the bidding process, asserting that the new criteria were skewed in favour of Boeing's offering. On 20 April 2010, EADS announced it was re-entering the competition on a stand-alone basis and intended to enter a bid with the KC-45, still intending for Mobile to be the final assembly site. On 24 February 2011, the USAF announced that the $35 billion contract had been awarded to Boeing. William J. Lynn III, the deputy defence secretary, said Boeing was "the clear winner" under a formula that considered the bid prices, how well each of the planes met war-fighting needs and what it would cost to operate them over 40 years.