The Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA)
project is aimed at providing the Royal Air Force's Air Refuelling
capability through the private finance initiative (PFI).
Under this PFI which will cost around £13 billion, the AirTanker
consortium has been selected as the preferred bidder for the FSTA
The PFI contract currently under negotiation with AirTanker is based
on the firm assumption that the FSTA aircraft are both operated
from, and maintained at, RAF Brize Norton.
FSTA will replace the
in-service Tri Star and VC10 aircraft.
The AirTanker consortium comprises Cobham, EADS, Rolls-Royce, Thales
and VT Group. The Airbus Military division of EADS will be
responsible for designing, developing and converting the tankers and
for delivering the completed aircraft to AirTanker.
The A330-200 offered by AirTanker for the MoDís requirement will
probably remain in service until about 2040 and the aircraft
will refuel combat aircraft such as the Typhoon and the F35B which
will enter service during the next decade.
FSTA aircraft will be two point tankers, equipped with 2 x FRL Mk32B
900E pods. Some aircraft will also be capable of being fitted as
three point tankers.
The full passenger and cargo capability can be used while the
A330-200 is configured for AAR operations.
In its air-to-air refuelling role the FSTA will have the ability to
offload 60 tonnes of fuel 1,000 miles from base, and remain on
station for 2 hours. On a typical deployment over about 3,000 miles,
a single A330 would be able to refuel four Tornados and still carry
11,000 lb (5000 kg) of freight and/or 290 passengers.
14 x Aircraft are due to be delivered from 2011 onward.
AIRBUS A330 Specifications
Two Rolls Royce
Trent turbofans 72,000lbs thrust each
||197ft 10in (60.30m)
Airbus A330 (Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft/FSTA)
Dual role tanker and passenger aircraft
Future replacement aircraft for Tristar
Modern cockpit with 'fly-by-wire'
Can carry a 5 ton load and refuel four
Tornados on a trans-Atlantic flight
Of the competing bids, it was announced
in early 2004 that Air Tanker was to be chosen as the MoD's
AirTanker's bid centred on the Airbus A330 aircraft. All
aircraft will be capable as 2-point tankers, equipped with 2 FRL
Mk32B 900E pods. A number of the fleet will also be capable of being
fitted as 3-point tankers. Very few internal changes are required to
the A330-200 to modify it for the air-to-air refuelling role. In
particular no additional fuel tanks are required. As the A330 shares
the same wing as the four-engined A340, there is a pre-strengthened
location available for mounting the wing AAR pods. As a consequence,
refuelling pods can be fitted with minimal modifications and without
any strengthening required to the aircraft.
passenger and cargo capability can be used while the A330-200 is
configured for AAR operations. The cabin remains fully configured
and the cargo compartments are unobstructed. On a typical deployment
across the Atlantic, a single A330 would be able to refuel four
Tornados and still carry 11,000lb (5000kg) of freight/passengers.
One novel aspect of the contract is the facility lease the
aircraft for civil operations. The considerable commercial demand
for the A330 makes it more attractive to third-parties who will
operate those aircraft in the fleet not immediately required for RAF
use. This will deliver a major cost saving to the MoD and taxpayer
and ensures that the considerable capability advantages of the A330
The A330 will replace the RAF's existing VC10
and Tristar fleets at RAF Brize Norton.
Air Transport (AT). The movement of
personnel and support equipment.
Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR). The
facility to extend the range, endurance or payload of air
Aeromedical Evacuation (Aeromed).
The airlift of patients.