The UK government announced today the start of exclusive negotiations to make the Airbus A330-200 its Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA).

A market leader in its class, the A330-200 is the most modern platform available for air-to-air refuelling, providing greater interoperability and force projection by taking more fighter aircraft further than existing or alternative aircraft. Without compromising its refuelling capability, the A330-200 can also carry greater troop and cargo loads on military and humanitarian missions.

“We are very pleased and honoured by the announcement in favour of the A330-200 by the UK government for its air tanker requirement. This decision underlines the capability and efficiency of our aircraft for military as well as civil roles, as already demonstrated with the A400M and the converted A310 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft. As a consequence of those successes, Airbus is proud of its contribution to EADS's backlog in the military market ” said Noël Forgeard, Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer. “We are convinced that Airbus aircraft can satisfy the need of many of the world’s air forces and will eventually become the market reference in the military transport field, just as Airbus aircraft are already the reference for commercial airlines.” he added.

The A330-200 FSTA will provide the RAF with outstanding flexibility, reliability and cost efficiency. Its modern and aerodynamically advanced wing carries 111 tonnes of fuel without the need for auxiliary fuel tanks, enabling it to refuel more receiver aircraft than existing and competing tankers.

Thanks to its true wide-body cabin, the A330-200 FSTA will be able to provide its full passenger and cargo capability while it is configured for air-refuelling operations. In a comfortable one class configuration it can accommodate almost 300 service personnel and carry a full range of cargo containers, including military pallets in both the forward and rear cargo compartments.

To date nearly 1,400 aircraft are used for special military missions, such as transport, air-to-air refuelling, AWACS or maritime patrol. Many of them will have to be replaced in the near future. Airbus’ extensive and most modern aircraft family will provide efficient platforms for many of these requirements.

The announcement in favour of the A330-200 for the RAF through a private finance initiative (PFI) is a strong acknowledgement of the aircraft’s potential to generate third party revenue. More than 460 A330s have been ordered by 60 airlines across the globe, and it is recognised as the most efficient and economic twin-engine aircraft ever built.

A leading aircraft manufacturer with the most modern and comprehensive product line on the market, Airbus is a global company with design and manufacturing facilities in France, Germany, the UK, and Spain as well as subsidiaries in the U.S., China and Japan. Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.