In February 2007 the UAE announced its selection of the EADS A330 MRTT as its next-generation aerial tanker, with secondary transport capabilities. In this industry, however, contracts can take a while to materialize. It took another year for EADS to announce a signed contract for their initial 3 aircraft. The UAE’s tankers will be fitted with under-wing “hose and drogue” pods to refuel boom-equipped aircraft like the UAE’s Mirage 2000-9s, and an EADS ARBS boom system to refuel aircraft with dorsal inlets like their F-16 E/F Desert Falcons.
As is usually the case for contracts involving the UAE, price is not revealed. In this case, however, the quantity is known.
Contracts & Key Events
The UAE ordered 3 aircraft in February 2008, to join the 5 ordered by Australia and the 3 ordered by Saudi Arabia on EADS’ order books at the time. The A330 MRTT has had additional successes since. UK AirTanker’s order for 14, under the FSTA public-private tanker partnership, is the largest remaining order. The plane was also a a candidate for the USA’s huge 179-aircraft KC-X competition. It won round 1, then lost round 2 to Boeing over very aggressive pricing of the KC-767.
Airbus Military has successfully completed receiver qualification of the two primary aircraft-types that the UAE Air Force will refuel from the three A330 MRTT multi role tanker transports that it currently has on order.
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Aug 5/13: #3 delivered. Airbus delivers their 3rd A330 MRTT aircraft to the UAE, finishing the order. The planes will serve with the UAE Air Force and Air Defense at Al-Ain airbase.
The first 5 UAE crews just completed their training, and the final 5 will begin training in September 2013 for completion in early 2014. Airbus Military.
Feb 6/13: #1 delivered. Airbus delivers their 1st A330 MRTT aircraft to the UAE, and expects to fulfill the rest of the order by mid-year. Airbus Military.
March 26/12: Qualification with UAE fighters. An extensive series of flight tests in Abu Dhabi has qualified the A330 MRTT to refuel UAE Air Force Mirage 2000-9s and F-16E/F Block 60 fighters, including refueling of 2 Mirages simultaneously using the hose-and-drogue pods.
Crew training with UAE pilots is currently underway in Spain and the first two A330 MRTTs for the UAE, including the one that took part in the trials, are due to be delivered before the end of 2012. Airbus Military.
Fighter refueling qualification
April 9/11: The first Airbus Military A330 MRTT for the United Arab Emirates Air Force completes its maiden flight, following military conversion of the aircraft in Madrid, Spain. As it features some different avionics, and is the first “receiver” to be powered by the Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engine, the UAE’s A330 MRTT now enters the certification and qualification phase for these new elements.
The plane will transfer to Abu Dhabi around the end of 2011 for the final phase of flight-testing, leading to expected delivery in Q2 2012. Airbus Military.
Feb 22/11: At IDEX 2011, the UAE announces an additional AED 34.5 million (about $9.4 million) contract to upgrade its aerial tankers’ flight management systems. Jane’s.
Feb 22/11: At IDEX 2011, Airbus head of market development Didier Vernet says that the UAE will receive its 1st aerial tanker in December 2011. UAE’s The National.
Feb 25/08: The UAE Air Force & Air Defense United Arab Emirates will get air to air refueling aircraft, as the government and EADS announce a contract for 3 A330 Multi Role Transport Tankers. EADS.