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Based on the A330 airliner, the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is an aerial refueller and transport aircraft. To date 16 countries have ordered over 68 aircraft and the type is competing for the USAF KC-Y tanker competition as the Lockheed Martin LMXT. The MRTT can be equipped to refuel other aircraft mid-air by the probe and drogue system or using a remotely operated boom. Airbus has demonstrated advanced refuelling technology using a boom equipped A330 MRTT where by aircraft have been refuelled autonomously without any input from a boom operator within the aircraft. In addition to aerial refuelling, the MRTT can also carry up to 380 passengers or less in VIP configurations or up to 45,000kg of cargo.
The RAF operate a fleet of 14 Voyager KC.2 and KC.3 aircraft, with the KC.3 differing with having a third hose point in the fuselage for refuelling larger aircraft. The aircraft are provided under a private finance initiative by Air Tanker. Nine aircraft are kept on strength with 10 and 101 Squadron whilst the remaining five aircraft form a surge fleet which can be used when necessary. When not required by the RAF the surge fleet are chartered by Air Tanker to private companies as airliners and are regularly seen flying passengers on their summer holidays from British regional airports.
The RAF will be providing one of their Voyagers to appear in the flying display each day at the Air Tattoo to demonstrate its aerial refuelling capability as part of our SKYTANKER theme. On the Friday it will flypast simulating refuelling as RAF Atlas and on the weekend it will appear simulating the refuelling of a pair of combat aircraft.
Photo Credit: Peter March