The first two Airbus aircraft with air-to-air refuelling capabilities, A310 Multi-Role Transport Tanker (MRTT) aircraft, were handed over to the German Air Force and the Canadian Air Force, during a ceremony in Dresden, Germany. A total of six A310 MRTTs, to be used both for passenger and cargo transport as well as for in-flight refuelling, are scheduled to be delivered to the German Air Force, which will receive four aircraft, and the Canadian Air Force, which will receive two.

The A310 MRTT, currently the most modern tanker aircraft, is based on the A310 passenger aircraft, which was first converted to combine passenger and cargo carrying capabilities in the Multi-Role Transport (MRT) version. A310 MRT aircraft have been flying with the German and Canadian Air Forces for a number of years and have proven to be very reliable and flexible passenger and cargo transport aircraft. Following a second modification, the MRT has become an MRTT version of the A310, now including in-flight refuelling capabilities for all military aircraft that can connect to hose/drogue refuelling systems, such as the Tornado, the Eurofighter or and F-18s.

The A310 MRTT is a conversion package offered by a consortium of Airbus and Lufthansa Technik (LHT). The work on three aircraft will be done at Elbe Flugzeugwerke (EFW) in Dresden, while another three will be converted at LHT facilities in Hamburg.

“Airbus is proud to hand over the first A310 MRTT aircraft to their customers today. With this milestone event, Airbus has become a provider of aircraft with in-flight refuelling capabilities, further expanding the scope of its products. Together with the A330 MRTT and the A400M, which is a tactical tanker, several tanker solutions with distinctive qualities will be available,” said Dr. Gustav Humbert, Airbus Chief Operating Officer.

The A330 MRTT, based on the Airbus A330 long-range passenger aircraft, is a product offered by the Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTAD) of EADS, which also played a significant role in the design of the A310 MRTT modifications. The A330 MRTT complements the A310 MRTT as a solution for customers requiring greater payload, range and endurance. Contract negotiations with the Australian Air force as well as discussions with the Royal Air Force in the UK and with France are advancing well.

The A400M will be the most advanced military Turboprop airlifter and will be fully equipped as an air-to-air refueller. Currently seven European Nations have ordered a total of 180 A400Ms.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.