The Government of Canada has awarded Airbus Defence and Space a contract worth CAD 3 billion (€2.1 billion) for four newly-built Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft and the conversion of five used A330-200s.
In April 2021, Airbus Defence & Space Canada announced that the A330 MRTT had been chosen over the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus. It will receive the Canadian designation CC-330 Husky.
“As the world’s most advanced multirole 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,” Mike Schoellhorn, Chief Executive Officer of Airbus Defence and Space, said in a press release. “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.”
The new A330-200s will be assembled in Toulouse, France, and will undergo conversion in Getafe, Spain, with the first delivery to the RCAF scheduled for 2027. The A330 MRTTs will be equipped with various refueling options, cybersecurity solutions, countermeasures, and an Airbus Medical Evacuation kit. The contract also includes training services.
A contract for the procurement and preparation of two Airbus A330-200 aircraft, manufactured in 2015, was awarded to International AirFinance Corporation on July 14, 2022.
Under the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC) program, the purpose of this contract is to replace and extend the aging fleet of five CC-150 Polaris (A310 MRTT) aircraft, currently operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
Replacing the aging Polaris fleet
Based at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Trenton in Ontario, the Polaris fleet is operated by the RCAF 437 Transport Squadron.
The five CC-150s started their lives as regular Airbus A310s with the defunct Canadian carrier Wardair between 1987 and 1988. They entered service with the RCAF in 1992, filling various roles.
The first CC-150, designation 15001, was turned into “Can Force One” (or the “Taj Mahal”, as described by former prime minister Jean Chrétien) to transport the Canadian prime minister. Another two are used as regular troop and cargo transport. As for the fourth and fifth airframes, they were both converted into mid-air refuelers, based on the A310 MRTT.
On October 19, 2019, 15001 was damaged after hitting a wall during a towing operation at CFB Trenton in Ontario. After undergoing repairs at Montréal–Mirabel International Airport (YMX), Québec, it returned to operations on February 25, 2021. The investigation into the incident pointed to the use of faulty equipment and insufficient training of towing staff.
On July 22, 2023, another Polaris aircraft, designation 15003, accidentally collided with a parked A400M aircraft from the French Air and Space Force at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam Island. Though the damage assessment is still ongoing both aircraft’s horizontal stabilizers were reportedly damaged.