Airbus have delivered the Republic of Singapore Air Force’s (RSAF) first A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT).

The aircraft made its first official public appearance on Saturday the 1st of September 2018 at the RSAF’s 50th anniversary parade.

The Republic of Singapore Air Force selected the A330-200 MRTT in February 2014 over the Boeing KC-46, and signed for a delivery of six aircraft.

Airbus say that the new-generation A330 MRTT extends the endurance of the RSAF’s fighter aircraft, and ensures the service’s continued capability to provide air-to-air refuelling support.

It also provides the RSAF with greater cargo and passenger transport capabilities, and enhances its ability to contribute to international humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and peace support operations.

The Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft based on the civilian Airbus A330.

The A330 MRTT has been ordered by the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Air Force, Royal Saudi Air Force, United Arab Emirates Air Force and Republic of Singapore Air Force.

The EADS/Northrop Grumman KC-45 was a version of the A330 MRTT proposed for the United States Air Force but this did not progress beyond the concept phase.


  1. Just the ticket for funding out of our foreign aid budget.

    “It also provides the RSAF with greater cargo and passenger transport capabilities, and enhances its ability to contribute to international humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and peace support operations.”

    • By the looks of it yes… It was a really stupid decision and I have no idea why it was made.

      Even if we had no current jets with that requirement we could have had the ability to better support our allies. It can’t have cost much less to have it with the boom?

        • We all know why we didn’t, it costs a little more. Strange small cost savings like not putting link16 on the wildcats or not including ciws on the current frigates etc, just make no sense at all.

      • (Chris H) Lee1 – Why should we equip our aircraft to benefit other air forces? Do they? No. If we have kit we need that they can use as well fine. But why would we go to the bother of an ARBS to refuel our small fleets of C-17 and RC-135 which have long range anyway?

        We already know Boeing can fit probe / drogue refuelling to their fuselages (as in Sentry) so it would be a dafter decision to NOT fit the Poseidon’s with that system. Its only USAF aircraft (and their export versions) that use boom refuelling. Let the Yanks provide their own refuelling. After all we happily refuel USMC and US Navy aircraft for them.

        • @Chris, some ideas why …
          _The boom delivers fuel at a faster rate than a basket
          _The boom allows transfer of fuel both ways (useful if there is a need to off-load fuel from an aircraft to lighten its landing weight)
          _The P-8s (and future E-7 if the RAF get it) only refuel with booms and need to refuel for extended range during operations.

  2. I wonder if the Singaporians paid the same as the UK for the frankly exuberant Voyager series aircraft. They are utter crap and cannot eventful our newly purchased Poseidon MPAs. £14 billion for a tanker aircraft programme. Good god the RAF like to waste precious defence budget resources.

    • Sure they are not crap otherwise the RAF would not have purchased them.

      The price includes more than just the aircraft. We are buying a service for many decades.

    • The voyagers are excellent. It is the purchasers lack of thought and ordering them without the boom that is the issue. As far as I know they are owned by a civilian company and leased to the RAF. (Stupid beyond belief!) and as the RAF did not specify the need for booms the private company went with the cheapest possible option as they need to make money out of the deal.

      • Lee1- the Voyagers are operated by Air Tanker Ltd,whose makeup consists of Rolls Royce,Cobham,Airbus and Thales Group,hardly anything to be concerned about pedigree wise I would have thought.Perhaps in the future the contract can be ‘tweaked’ a little to enable some of the spare Aircraft to be modified to use booms.

        • The problem is that they are private companies which have shareholders. Those shareholders want to make as much money as possible and deliver as little as possible… That is not a good idea when it comes to running a key function of the military. It increases costs and reduces ability. The RAF should own these aircraft. I am not sure at the moment if there is anything in the contract that could make Air Tanker Ltd refit their aircraft for us.

          • heres another thought,the USAF has Air Refuelling assets at RAF Mildenhall,maybe an arrangement can/has been made to use their boom equipped Tankers when needed negating the need for the RAF ones to be so equipped ,without triggering clauses in the contract.

          • Is that a good solution? I mean this is the RAF we are talking about, not the Irish Air force! I mean that is currently the solution we are using, but it is not a good one. We should have our own fully owned refuelling tankers and the tanker force should have the ability to refuel all of our current aircraft.

            The Air Tanker contract has proven to be poor value so we really ought to terminate it and simply purchase our own Voyagers.

          • (Chris H) Quote:
            “The Air Tanker contract has proven to be poor value so we really ought to terminate it and simply purchase our own Voyagers.”

            Really? OK care to knock out a business case spreadsheet for us to prove it is indeed bad value and owning them would be more cost effective? And why is Air Tanker the problem over ARBS? The RAF don’t need them and never asked for them. It got what it wanted.

          • The National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have both done the calculations and reported that the contract was not good value. They have access to all the figures…

      • Lee1- Yes the NAO did scrutinise the deal and found issues with the way it was set up and during early implementation but now it has been operational for a few years for a cost of £390 million PA id say it was good value.

      • (Chris H) Lee1 – Forgive my asking this but you do realise that the £10.5 Bn (in 2008 money) is not to just source 14 aircraft? It is the POTENTIAL cost of full continuous operation of 14 tankers for 27 years including all maintenance, building all hangars and facilities, training and supplying ground crew and aircrew numbers and ensuring they are available at all times. We currently only need 9 so without this PFI we would have had 5 A330s sat in hangars costing a fortune in depreciation and storage maintenance for over 6 years. But that wouldn’t have been a waste of taxpayers money?

        When you have THIS sort of garbage being published by the Mail on Sunday last month deliberately misleading readers and others with bare faced lies to suit their political agenda against Theresa May it is no surprise people get upset and believe them to be true. They failed to mention the aircraft Thompson used did not cost the RAF a penny. But then the Mail has a record of stupidity on defence matters.

        I wonder if you are also referring to views expressed over 6 years ago by those renowned defence experts at the BBC and Newsnight. People not noted for their support of the UK military to say the least but who got the hounds running as they wanted. So they reckoned the cost of each aircraft should have been £50 Mn plus £10 Mn for conversion rather than the alleged £150 Mn each. Lord above we have found the answer to all UK military procurement problems and we can save £ Bns! Just ask the BBC … or maybe not. It took 127,000 hours of extra conversion work by Airbus in Spain on new ex-factory A330s, which had already been passively engineered for conversion, to bring a civilian airframe to the required RAF standard. Good luck doing that for £10 Mn each BBC ….

        Hammond said at the time he would review the contract and how it was delivered. He did that, found it was perfectly satisfactory and no further criticism has been made. (Unless you can quote some).

        To clarify what the Commons Public Accounts Committee complained about in 2010. It was that the Ministry of Defence:
        “did not understand the costs of the deal it was negotiating as it did not obtain access to detailed industry cost data. In particular, it could not determine whether profit margins were appropriate.”

        Well good luck with that in any commercial negotiations. What the RAF did was to run a purchase cost, operation and maintenance business case, NPV it over the equivalent 27 year period and then compared that bottom line to what was offered by Air Tanker. That is all they could and should have done. Basically if you get what you want and the price is acceptable the profit made by the supplier is actually none of your business. Unless you are a Socialist Leftie of course where profit is a bad idea. Hence the BBC interest

        Voyager was one of a number of procurement deals placed under close scrutiny by its head of procurement and maintenance Bernard Gray who was recruited as chief of defence materiel in December 2010 after authoring a highly-critical official report into serious failings in a range of procurement deals. To date he has made no negative report of which I am aware.

        As a staunch Conservative I could just sit back, smile and blame Labour and note the criticisms to which you refer were in 2010 repeated later in 2012 barely 2 years after the Tory / LibDem coalition took power. But I won’t. Because on THIS one Labour actually got it dead right especially given the economic implosion we suffered in 2008 (for which I will blame Labour). £10.5 Bn over 27 years for 14 aircraft = £27 Mn a year all up cost per aircraft per year if all are used 24 / 7. Using them on a cost per hour basis means the RAF only pay when they use them (with a basic minimum guarantee).

        Voyagers are not front line combat aircraft where the RAF are the best at what they do. Civilian organisations are better at sourcing and maintaining civilian based aircraft than is the RAF. For example a military aircraft would never get the ‘cost per hour used’ contracts RR issue to every major airline for their civilian engines like the Trent. Basically RR supply and fit new engines to new aircraft on the FAL, they then monitor them online 24 / 7, maintain them and replace as necessary at their cost. The airline only pays for the hours run.

        I pieced together this response from my own records and quoted references from publicly available documents

    • (Chris H) Mr Bell – Well if they can’t that is hardly the fault of the RAF, Airbus or Air Tanker is it? It seems the MoD are too frit to demand (as paying customers) that Boeing deliver those aircraft with UK specific refuelling systems. It has been done before on the 707 derived Sentry so is it really beyond Boeing’s capability to add it on new build 737 derived Poseidons which have very similar nose and front fuselage

      • From what I gather it costs quite a lot to modify the refuelling systems on these aircraft. However that obviously does not mean it is not a possible solution. However it is probably cheaper to refit 2 or 3 voyagers with booms and you also get the other benefit of faster fuel transfer and less weight and drag on the receiving aircraft. It is probably a good idea to fit refuelling probes to the voyagers themselves too as they currently do not have them and so are not able to be refuelled mid air which is an odd decision even given that their range is pretty good.

        • (Chris H) Lee1 – You make a fair point if it was about modifying C-17 or RC-135 aircraft because they are already built and there are few of them. But then that argument also works against fitting ARBS to UK Voyagers. Because so few aircraft would use them. And if the RAF did do that it would have to go through a whole new approval and certification process. Very expensive even though Voyager is passively engineered for ARBS. It does of course already have a high capacity drogue station in the rear fuselage.

          But I was referring to the Poseidons which haven’t been built yet. There is very little extra cost building something in during manufacture although, given the close similarity between the 707 (or rather Dash – 8) based Sentry fuselage and the 737 based Poseidon, Sentry proves it can be done even decades after manufacture. The MoD should be telling Boeing what it will deliver and just needs to realise it is a huge customer to Boeing and should stop just accepting whatever is delivered.

          It seems the argument is ‘well the Yanks do it so we should’ which I don’t buy.

  3. (Chris H) – All those on here slagging off Air Tanker clearly don’t understand how its contract is structured. We buy on a “per hour used” basis with a basic minimum guaranteed (which is always exceeded). Any unused A330s are leased out by Air Tanker to private airlines like Thompson. The RAF don’t even maintain them. But all we hear is ‘It costs too much’ without quantifying how much they would have cost to fund the capital costs, maintenance costs and the redundancy costs of the unused aircraft. I doubt they even know the pilots are all Air Tanker civilians signed up as RAF Reservists when on military duties and just change uniforms.

    I am no Labour supporter let alone PFI enthusiast having seen what Brown did to the NHS but on this Labour got it dead right.


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