Military Aviation

Airbus, Lockheed Martin team up and offer A330 MRTT to U.S. government

“The U.S. Air Force deserves the best aerial-refueling technology and performance available under the sun and this great industry team, Lockheed Martin and Airbus, will offer exactly that,” Tom Enders, Airbus CEO

Lockheed Martin and Airbus announced recently that the two companies have signed a memorandum of agreement to “explore opportunities” to meet “growing demand” from U.S. defense customers for aerial refueling.

Offering the A330 MRTT, both companies said their agreement is intended to “address any identified capacity shortfall and to meet requirements for the next generation of tankers capable of operating in challenging environments. Companies said their agreement is intended to “address any identified capacity shortfall and to meet requirements for the next generation of tankers capable of operating in the challenging environments of future battlespace.”

As reported by 24/7 WallSt, that next generation may be a replacement for the current 59 U.S. Air Force KC-10 refueling tankers at some future unspecified date.

Noteworthy Boeing has had its struggles delivering the KC-46 on a contract to replace 179 KC-135 tankers, about half the existing fleet of 400 of the older tankers. According to The Wall Street Journal, the Pentagon indicated that it may be interested in more refueling capacity than the Boeing contract is set to deliver. Officials met with potential suppliers to discuss acquiring refueling capacity on a fee-for-service basis and that the military would need 7,000 hours of such services annually, according to a draft requirements document.

Lockheed’s board chair and chief executive, Marillyn Hewson, said: Reliable and modernized aerial refueling is an essential capability for our customers to maintain their global reach and strategic advantage. By combining the innovation and expertise of Airbus and Lockheed Martin, we will be well-positioned to provide the United States Air Force with the advanced refueling solutions needed to meet 21st century security challenges.”

Airbus CEO Tom Enders added:“The U.S. Air Force deserves the best aerial-refueling technology and performance available under the sun and this great industry team, Lockheed Martin and Airbus, will offer exactly that.”

Photo credit: Royal Australian Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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