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Saudi Arabia has ordered four additional Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft for the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF), Airbus announced on 10 July 2024.

The first of these aircraft will enter into conversion at the beginning of 2026 ahead of entering service with the RSAF in 2027 to carry out both air-to-air refuelling and transport missions. The contract also includes a logistics support package with spare parts, training services and service support for the four new aircraft.

“This new order demonstrates the high level of customer satisfaction with the A330 MRTT,” Jean-Brice Dumont, head of air power at Airbus Defence and Space, was quoted as saying in a company press release. “This is the third contract signed by Saudi Arabia for the A330 MRTT, making the RSAF one of the largest MRTT operators in the world.”

The RSAF already operates six A330 MRTT aircraft, the first of which was delivered in 2013. All RSAF A330 MRTTs are configured with hose-and-drogue pods, a boom system and also a refuelling receptacle that allows them to be refuelled from boom-equipped tankers.

As part of this latest MRTT contract Airbus signed in January 2024 an industrial participation agreement with the Saudi General Authority for Military Industries (GAMI) for the development and growth of the industrial ecosystem in the region in support of the Saudi government’s Vision 2030programme, which aims to diversify the country’s economy.

This agreement also includes the transfer of technology and knowhow in relation to the A330 MRTT to local companies. SAAMS, the joint venture created between Saudi Arabian Military industries (SAMI) and Airbus, will be the main vehicle for industrial localisation.

Airbus bills the A330 MRTT as “the most capable new-generation tanker and transport aircraft”. It has a 90% market share outside the United States and has secured 82 orders from 15 countries in Europe, Asia, America and Oceania.

Saudi Arabia has ordered four more Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft in addition to the six the RSAF already operates. (Photo: Airbus)