RAF tanker deal is signed

A fleet of new Airbus A330-200s will provide air transport and air refuelling capability to the Royal Air Force under a 27-year contract between the UK Ministry of Defence and the EADS-led AirTanker consortium.

AirTanker will own the aircraft, but they will fly in RAF colours. They are expected to enter service around 2011, replacing the current refuelling fleet of TriStars and VC-10s. The PFI (private finance initiative) contract also includes provision for all necessary infrastructure, training, maintenance, flight management, fleet management and ground services to enable the RAF to fly air-to-air refuelling and transport missions worldwide.

The consortium has raised around £2.5bn (̈́4;3.2bn) to finance the programme, called FSTA Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft).

The A330 FSTA aircraft will be more than 50 per cent British by value. Through this agreement, EADS will become the RAF's leading supplier of transport aircraft, complementing its existing commitment to supply 25 A400M aircraft to the UK forces.

EADS CEO Louis Gallois commented: "The MoD's requirements are known to be highly exacting, and we are grateful that its trust has been placed in EADS and our consortium partners: Cobham, Rolls-Royce, Thales and VT Group. For our part, this win further demonstrates the A330 as the platform of choice for the world's refuelling fleets and comes on the back of our recent success in the US market. This award strengthens our ongoing commitment to grow our business in the UK in the long-term."

The Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Baroness Taylor, said: "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."


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