UAE Adds To Airbus Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet

Credit: Mark Wagner/Aviation Images

DUBAI—The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has ordered a pair of A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transports from Airbus, adding to its fleet of three already in operation.

The AED2.46 billion ($670 million) order was part of a AED5.2 billion splurge on defense contracts announced by the UAE Ministry of Defense on the opening day of the Dubai Airshow. 

The UAE had announced plans to purchase additional tankers at the 2019 edition of the show, originally stating that three would be needed.

The UAE is the third customer to make a follow-on MRTT order after France and the NATO-run Multinational Multirole Tanker Transport Fleet.

The two UAE MRTTs will be new-build A330s, built to the MRTT Enhanced standard. The UAE’s existing three aircraft will be upgraded to the MRTT Enhanced configuration as part of the contract. Like the first three aircraft, they will be equipped for boom and hose-and-drogue refueling, allowing them to support the UAE’s fighters including its Dassault Mirage 2000s and Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 60s.

Airbus will carry out the conversion work at its Getafe facility near Madrid. No details on delivery timelines were provided. ShowNews has reached out to Airbus for comment.

The announcement rounds off a bumper week for MRTT orders for the airframer. On Friday, Nov. 12, Spain inked contracts for the conversion of three ex-Iberia A330s for conversion into hose-and-drogue-only tankers for the Spanish Air Force. First delivery of one of the A330s in a transport configuration is imminent, while the first converted aircraft is due to enter service in 2023. The others will follow in 2024 and 2025.

Other contracts announced by the UAE defense ministry include a AED2.67 billion contract to Progressive Technologies for ammunition for the UAE Air Force and contracts for Thales and Goodrich.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.