For those who are heading over to the Singapore Airshow tomorrow (Wednesday), you can catch the special appearance of the new Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport). The A330 MRTT will be on display until tomorrow, where it will continue on its way for further tests by the Airbus team.
I had the rare privilege to tour the MRTT this afternoon with a bunch of fellow media personnel at the exhibition grounds. Here’s a sneak preview of the plane, together with a few pointers that I took away from the Airbus press briefing. Unfortunately, I only have pictures of the exterior of the plane, for they don’t allow photographs in the interior for security reasons.
The Airbus A330 MRTT is a specially configured Airbus A330-200, and serves as an aerial refuelling tanker doubled up as a transport ship. To date, orders have been taken from armed forces over the world, including the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force and many other countries. The RAAF, which one of its A330 MRTT is featured here (registration MRTT 016), has ordered 14 so far – 7 of them with a 2 point refuelling system and the other 7, a 3 point with the main fuselage boom.
With newer metrics and advanced technology on board, the MRTT can carry over 111 tonnes of gas, and “ala-carte” options such as additional refuelling system could be added on if customers wished. These refuelling systems will boost the airborne refuelling capabilities for the MRTT, an important and strategic focus all military aviation groups look out for.
Refuelling options include two wing refuelling hoses, other than the central fuselage refuelling boom, called the Airbus Military Aerial Refuelling Boom (ARBS).
Termed as a game changing aircraft by the Airbus team, the MRTT is one of the best protected military plane, with possible countermeasures and deflections against potential military threats. Features of these were not further discussed, but Airbus assures customers of its safety and agility in the air.
The MRTT comes standard with two engines (like a similar A330), in this case – either the option of a Rolls Royce Trent 700; a Pratt & Whitney PW4170; or a General Electric CF6-80E1. The engine featured here is the Trent 700.
With the option of being converted into a 380 seat passenger plane for VIP and commercial travel, the MRTT also boosts the ability to carry up to 45 tonnes of cargo. It has two lower deck cargo compartments and a bulk area capability. Most of the controls can be operated via the flight deck, including its airborne refuelling capability.
So, if you are attending the Singapore Airshow tomorrow, do remember to head over to the static display to take a look at this giant eye-opener.
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