Airbus announced that it was awarded two contracts to develop and modernize the communication systems for the A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) fleet of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The upgrade is to give “new and additional Communications Capabilities and Enhanced Mission Systems” to the aircraft, as the manufacturer explains.

The first phase will focus on the design and development of new systems for the integration of the aircraft. Then, a prototype of the KC-30 aircraft (the name used by the RAAF to the A330 MRTT) will be delivered for testing and certification. If approved, the modifications will then be extended to the rest of the fleet.

Airbus will also provide the data packs and the support necessary for these updates to be taken into account in the flight simulator and other training procedures of the RAAF.

“The objective of the upgrade is to provide an affordable solution which brings the RAAF KC-30A fleet up to Airbus’ world-class quality and capability standards and meets the latest interoperability requirements for the Australian Defence Force and its allies,” Airbus says.

The A330 MRTT is ​​a multirole aircraft, both a tanker and a carrier (freight and passengers) based on the A330. 

Australia is one of the nine countries currently operating the A330 MRTT. The RAAF has a fleet of 7 aircraft. It received its first new-generation tanker in 2011. 

Globally, 61 A330 MRTT tankers were ordered, out of which 45 are already operational. The aircraft comes as a direct competitor to Boeing KC-46 Pegasus, which has only been ordered by three air forces so far: the United States Air Force, the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force, and the Israeli Air Force.

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The State Department officially informed the Congress of its intention to proceed with the sale of 8 Boeing KC-46A Pegasus tankers, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced. The sale could help reduce the stress currently affecting the USAF aerial refueling capacities.