U.S. B-52 To Integrate With Singaporean A330 MRTT

A Republic of Singapore Air Force Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport at the 2022 Singapore Airshow static display on Feb. 16.
Credit: Brian Everstine/ShowNews

SINGAPORE—A U.S. Air Force Boeing B-52 bomber will link up with a Republic of Singapore Air Force Airbus A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) on Feb. 17 as part of a broad U.S.-partner push to expand the ability of aircraft to receive fuel from tankers of international operators.

The B-52 is coming to the region for a display at this week's Singapore Airshow and will fly with the A330, separately, from the event. The B-52 will not connect with the tanker, but it is an early step toward certifying the nuclear bomber with the Singaporean refueler, says U.S. Air Force Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of Pacific Air Forces.

Once certified, the B-52 will be the first U.S. nuclear bomber cleared to refuel from the MRTT.

Wilsbach’s goal is to have all allied and partner aircraft certified to receive from all available tankers.

“Let’s give fuel or receive fuel and let’s not worry too much about where did the tanker come from, or where did the receiver come from,” he says. “But in order to do that, you have to certify all the platforms with all the platforms.”

Much work will be needed to get to that point, and it will move slowly, he says.

“You don’t just do that off the cuff or on the fly. You make sure that you’ve done the engineering work and everything’s [going to] work, so you don’t end up damaging or losing a very valuable asset. So we go pretty slow on those,” he says.

The A330 MRTT already is certified for several U.S. aircraft, including the Boeing C-17, E-3 and P-8A, Lockheed Martin F-22 and F-35A, and the A-10, B-1B, F-15 and F-16. Thirteen countries fly the Airbus tanker, and a variant of the aircraft from Lockheed Martin is an entrant in the Air Force’s KC-Y program to follow-on after all 179 planned KC-46s are delivered.

Brian Everstine

Brian Everstine is the Pentagon Editor for Aviation Week, based in Washington, D.C. Before joining Aviation Week in August 2021, he covered the Pentagon for Air Force Magazine. Brian began covering defense aviation in 2011 as a reporter for Military Times.


Someone in Singapore did not think this through. If the "integration" of the A330 MRTT and the B-52 continues to completion, Singapore will have the ability to support a US strategic nuclear asset.
From the PRC's point of view this could be interpreted as Singapore joining, or at the least giving "aid and comfort" to, the the coalition to "contain" China. If this conclusion is reached, it could also mean that Singapore's MRTT facilities will be added by Chinese planners to the list of high value targets which should be attacked early on in a war with the Americans.
There is no willy-nilly decision-making on Singapore's part. Both its outstanding economy and defensive abilities are the result of decades of careful planning and execution. The MRTT plays a key role in increasing its security and not the other way around.

You have it backwards, GWROBLE, or maybe you're just a shill for the PRC. In any case, do you think for a moment that the ROKAF or JASDF is going to temper its IFR capabilities based on your presented line of reasoning?
US military aircraft should not rely on Airbus tankers. It's a matter of national security.
US military aircraft should not rely on Airbus tankers. It's a matter of national security.

P Cauchi it’s a two way thing everyone depends on each other. Australia has MRRTs plus US forces based there. Makes sense to share the load. Australian MRRTs have been refueling planes over Afghanistan for years including American ones. Adding the B52 to the list is neither here nor there.