The Ministry of Defense (MoD) of the United Kingdom
has selected formally AirTanker consortium as the preferred bidder for the
Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) program. This decision follows the
announcement approximately one year ago that UK MoD was entering negotiations
with AirTanker to become the program's preferred bidder.
Royal Air Force (RAF) FSTA program is valued at £13
billion ($25 billion) and will provide air refueling capability for at least 27
years under a Private Finance Initiative (PFI). Several thousands of jobs are
expected to be created and sustained throughout the United Kingdom thanks to
this program. AirTanker consortium comprises EADS, Rolls-Royce, Cobham, VT Group
and Thales UK.
The key asset of a PFI solution for FSTA, which was established in 1997, is that
FSTA aircraft can generate revenue through commercial use in peacetime when
these aircraft are not required for use by the RAF. AirTanker proposal is based
on Airbus' A330-200 jetliner fitted with Trent engines provided by Rolls-Royce.
The A330-200 fleet is expected to operate from RAF Brize Norton site in
FSTA/A330 is planned to replace RAF VC10 Victor and Tristar tanker/transport
aircraft fleet. The capability provided by these aircraft is critical for modern
armed forces to rapidly deploy during international crisis over long distances.
In addition to air refueling services, these aircraft will be able to transport
troops and equipment in support of military expeditionary forces.
The AirTanker solution is also known as the Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft
which includes Airbus A310 and 330 modified to fit into that role. Australia
also selected A330 MRTT solution consisting of five aircraft to meet the
requirements of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). AirTanker and the MoD
will now enter final stage of negotiations before the signing ceremony of the
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