Ministry of Defence
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RAF signs deal for A330 aircraft as future tankers

RAF signs deal for A330 aircraft as future tankers

MINISTRY OF DEFENCE News Release (050/2008) issued by The Government News Network on 27 March 2008

A fleet of new Airbus A330-200s will replace the RAF's TriStar and VC-10 aircraft under a £13 billion PFI deal signed today with AirTanker Ltd, announced Baroness Taylor, the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support.

The aircraft - which will be owned by AirTanker under the terms of the deal, although they will fly in RAF 'colours' - will undertake air to air refueling and passenger air transport tasks. The aircraft are expected to enter service around 2011, to serve for three decades.

The deal is good news for British jobs: up to 600 are expected to be created by AirTanker Ltd, and the deal will safeguard up to 3,000 jobs directly at British sites, with thousands more sustained indirectly.

Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Baroness Taylor, said:

"This deal represents great news for the Royal Air Force and great news for British industry and jobs. The A330s will provide a state-of-the-art air to air tanker and passenger aircraft supporting operations around the world and delivering British forces to operational theatres.

"Achieving a satisfactory outcome to this complex, high value, PFI deal has been challenging, particularly given the factors currently affecting the financial markets. I congratulate all those involved in securing this cost effective deal."

Commenting on the announcement, Phil Blundell, CEO of AirTanker, said:

"This is a major step forward for the MOD and AirTanker. The FSTA programme provides the MoD and RAF with state-of-the-art transport and refuelling equipment, which represents a step-change in performance. The Airbus A330 FSTA fleet will deliver unrivalled levels of capability, reliability, flexibility and economy to the UK armed forces. We are looking forward hugely to working with the MOD to put in place the new fleet and service."

Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, Chief of the Air Staff said:

"This is a very welcome announcement. Air-to-Air Refuelling and Strategic airlift are fundamental to the UK's expeditionary capability and the Future Tanker is a crucial element of that capability. The A330-200 is an extremely versatile aircraft, which is ideally suited to our requirements, and I look forward both to the aircraft's introduction in 2011, and the significant private investment in the infrastructure at RAF Brize Norton. Overall, this is excellent news for the RAF and for the UK's Armed Forces."

Since June 2007, the Department has been working with AirTanker to raise the necessary private sector funding. Despite the current turbulence in the world's financial markets, AirTanker has successfully secured the necessary funding.

- ENDS -

Notes to editors

* AirTanker Ltd was selected as Preferred Bidder through competition and its shareholders consist of Cobham, EADS, Rolls-Royce, VT and Thales.

* FSTA is a project to assess the feasibility of a PFI solution to replace the RAF's Fleet of VC10 and TriStar aircraft.

* AirTankers service solution is based on provision of Airbus A330-200 aircraft plus associated training, infrastructure, and through-life maintenance support.

* For further information from AirTanker please contact Bill Clare Tel: 0207 592 3810.

* For images and film footage please go to the Defence News Imagery website

* For further information please visit the MOD website at

FSTA facts

The FSTA fleet will customarily carry a minimum of 80 tonnes (100,000 litres) of aviation fuel per aircraft.

80 tonnes per aircraft is roughly equivalent to:

* 444 Sumo wrestlers (average 180 kg each)

* 53 Mini Coopers (gross weight 1515 kg)

* 16 elephants (African, male, 5 tonnes each)

* 1.3 average houses (at 62 tonnes each)

100,000 litres equates with:

* 400,000 cups of tea (250 ml each) - in Britain we drink 165 million cups a day, so we'd slurp through 400,000 in 35 minutes

* the capacity of 2,500 Mini Cooper petrol tanks (at 40 litres each)

* 370 average bath tubs (at 270 litres)

The total fuel dispensing rate from the aircraft is approximately 5,000 litres/min or about 80 litres per second. The wing pods alone refuel twice as fast as a F1 pit stop.

A Mini Cooper would be filled in less than 2 seconds. Using all three refuelling points, you could fill 125 Mini Coopers a minute - more than 2 a second.