The Canadian government has awarded Airbus Defence and Space with a CA$3 billion contract for four newly-built Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft and for the conversion of five used A330-200s.
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Known as the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC), this new fleet of aircraft will replace the ageing CC-150 Polaris (A310 MRTT) operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
The existing A310 fleet is being used to perform air-to-air refuelling operations, military and personnel and cargo airlift, medical evacuations, as well as strategic transport of Canadian government officials.
Mike Schoellhorn, chief executive officer of Airbus Defence and Space, welcomed the announcement saying, “As the world’s most advanced multi-role tanker aircraft, the A330 MRTT perfectly matches Canada’s needs to protect its sovereignty as well as to enhance operations both in the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) as well as in NATO.”
The newly-built A330-200s will be assembled at the A330 aircraft Final Assembly Line in Toulouse, France, prior to their scheduled entry into conversion at A330 MRTT facilities in Getafe, Spain, in mid-2025; the first MRTT will be delivered to the RCAF in 2027.
“Canada achieves this enhancement of operations not only by improving interoperability with other allied A330 MRTT customer nations but also due to the aircraft’s technological primacy ahead of the global competition,” Schoellhorn added.
Under the agreement, the A330 MRTTs will be equipped with both the hose and drogue and a boom as refuelling options, cyber security solutions, and countermeasures. All of them could be installed with the included Airbus medical evacuation kit solution, consisting of two intensive care units and additional stretchers.
The contract covers a full suite of training services including the most advanced training devices such as the full flight simulator to prepare and maintain crew readiness as part of the modernisation of the Canadian Armed Forces’ air operational training infrastructure.
The Canadian government selected Airbus in April 2021 as the only qualified supplier for the CC-150 tanker replacement.
As a new-generation tanker, the A330 MRTT is a perfect replacement for older aircraft under fleet replacement programs. With 60 total aircraft sales as of March 2020, the A330 MRTT has been ordered by Australia (as launch customer), France, NATO, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates, and the UK.