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German Air Force retires final A310 tanker transport aircraft

German Air Force A310
German Air Force file photo of an A310 tanker transport refueling Eurofighter and Tornado fighters

The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) retired the last remaining Airbus A310-304 transport on June 15 after 22 years of service.

The aircraft, which was built in 1988 and has the designation 10+25 (“Hermann Köhl”), has been put up for sale.

After being used by Lufthansa AG, the last A310 had been part of the BMVg Special Air Mission Wing in Cologne-Wahn since 1996. It was used there for air transport of personnel and material, for air refueling and for “strategic patient air transport.”

In this role, crews transported COVID-19 patients from southern to northern Germany on four flights in late 2021 as part of administrative assistance. According to the defense ministry, this aircraft has transported more than 300 injured and wounded Ukrainian nationals from Poland to Germany for treatment on ten flights since mid-April 2022.

An extension of the service life of four of these A310-304s, all of which were built in the 1980s and 1990s and some of which still came from “Interflug” stocks, beyond 2021 was not pursued further with a gradual, parallel transfer of tasks to the new A330 in the multinational MRTT unit in Eindhoven.

Shortly before the outbreak of war in Ukraine, it was decided to extend the use of the last A310 until June this year. The defense ministry decided to cut further extensions as the aircraft is due for a maintenance check lasting several months. The deadline for this “D-Check” was already extended as part of the decision from earlier this year. The extension was made possible by an exemption that can only be granted once. However, for reasons of aeronautical safety, continued operation without this “D-Check” is not possible and also not legally permissible, the defense ministry explained.

In recent years, the last five A310s have been slowly transferring their tasks to the growing A330 fleet of the Multinational Multi Role Tanker Transport Unit, or MMU for short, in Eindhoven.

Pending certification by the Dutch authorities, the A400M will initially take over the medical evacuation (MedEvac) mission that was performed by the A310.

Additionally, Germany is preparing to receive the first of two A321-200NX passenger aircraft that will be modified for these missions. The two aircraft will be operated by the Executive Transport Wing of the German defense ministry, which operates as part of the air force.

The Air Force most recently had five Airbus 310-304 aircraft at its disposal, four of which were also deployable in the MedEvac role as “multi tole transport tankers (MRTT)” for the core capability “strategic air patient transport.”

Until the multinational A330 MRTT in the MedEvac role is certified by the Dutch certification authorities – which is expected in the coming months – Air Transport Wing 62 in Wunstorf, Lower Saxony, will take over the core mission of tactical and strategic air patient transport with the A400M.