Airbus parent EADS wins £13 billion UK RAF airtanker contract

Thursday, March 27, 2008

An existing RAF Tristar aircraft

European Aeronautic Defence & Space NV (EADS), the parent company of European airframer Airbus, has won a £13 billion contract to supply the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force (RAF) with aerial refueling tankers to replace the nation's current ageing fleet.

AirTanker Ltd., an EADS-led consortium, have signed a 27-year contract with the Defense Ministry to supply 14 new Airbus A330-200 passenger airliner converted for the task. They will be owned by AirTanker, who retains commercial leasing rights to five which can carry 290 passengers plus cargo, but will fly in RAF livery. They replace existing Lockheed Tristar and Vickers VC-10 aircraft. The first aircraft will be in service by 2011 and all by 2016.

Rolls-Royce, part of the consortium, will supply engines. France's Thales will supply electronics, Wimborne, UK's Cobham will manufacture refueling equipment and Southampton, UK's VT Group will provide service management.

Last month, Northrop Grumman and EADS defeated Boeing to win a massive order for 179 tankers from the United States Air Force. Airbus has also inked recent deals with the Royal Australian Air Force, the Royal Saudi Air Force and the UAE Air Force.