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2nd A330 MRTT in flight for UK underscores maturity of KC-45 offering for USAF

EADS North America has marked another step forward for its KC-45 aerial refueling tanker program with the maiden flight of the second Airbus Military A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) for the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force (RAF). The KC-45 is the U.S. Air Force configuration of the A330 MRTT, and is the only tanker offered in the Air Force's tanker competition that is in production and flying today.

Converted from a basic A330-200 by Airbus Military, the aircraft flew for two hours from Getafe, Spain, on the evening of Oct. 26.

This is the fifth A330 MRTT currently flying, with several more in production for the four U.S. allies that have chosen the A330 MRTT over Boeing 767 tankers in four straight competitions. Deliveries of A330 MRTTs will begin before year-end, with Australia receiving the first aircraft.

The second Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft for the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force takes off on its maiden flight Oct. 26 from Getafe, Spain.

"By offering the U.S. Air Force the same tanker platform that is proving its capabilities today for allies like the United Kingdom and Australia, we're providing a low-risk solution for both the warfighter and the taxpayer," said Ralph D. Crosby Jr., EADS North America Chairman. "And we're going to put 48,000 Americans to work building the KC-45 here in the U.S."

The KC-45, as well as A330-based commercial freighter aircraft, will be assembled in a new aerospace center of excellence in Mobile, Alabama, using a nationwide network of hundreds of American suppliers.

The A330 MRTT configuration for the United Kingdom is designated the Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA), 14 of which have been ordered for the RAF. The first FSTA made its maiden flight on Sept. 16, beginning a flight-test program that will lead to first delivery to the RAF by the end of 2011.

The U.K. configuration includes two digital hose-and-drogue refueling pods under the wings, plus a hose-and-drogue fuselage refueling unit on the centerline. Both of these systems will be on the KC-45, along with Airbus Military's' advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System, which has demonstrated in flight its ability to meet the U.S. Air Force requirement for high fuel offload at 1,200 gallons a minute.

Altogether, A330 MRTTs have logged nearly a thousand flight hours and passed 1.2 million pounds of fuel to a wide range of combat aircraft with the same advanced refueling systems offered on the KC-45.

Because of the superior capabilities and efficiency of the tanker, the EADS North America KC-45 will also provide the Air Force substantial savings in operating costs compared to the concept aircraft that The Boeing Company is offering the Air Force.

"In any likely Air Force operational scenario, Boeing's concept tanker will cost 15% to 44% more, measured on the basis of fuel burned per gallon of fuel delivered," Crosby said. "We are offering the Air Force real savings from a real airplane - which is a clear distinction from our competitor."

Press release issued by Airbus Group North America, Inc. on November 1, 2010


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Airbus Group North America, Inc. Airframer
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