The Canadian government has finalized a contract with Airbus Defense and Space to buy four A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.
The new aircraft fleet, known as the Strategic Tanker Transport Capability (STTC), will replace the aging CC-150 Polaris (A310 MRTT) currently operated by the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF).
The existing CC-150 Polaris fleet has been operating for over thirty years and is nearing the end of its service life. The new fleet is anticipated to operate into the 2050s.
In addition to acquiring new planes, Canada has engaged the European manufacturer in a contract to convert an additional five aircraft of the same type to the MRTT standard.
The contract, valued at approx. CAD $3 billion or 2.1€ billion, covers a full suite of training services including the training devices such as the Full Flight Simulator. The A330 MRTTs will be equipped with both the hose and drogue and a boom as refueling options, cybersecurity solutions, and countermeasures, stated Airbus.
Once delivered, these aircraft will be designated as the CC-330 Husky and will improve the Royal Canadian Air Force’s interoperability with allies and partners, communications security and self-protection.
In July 2022, Canada bought two used A330-200 aircraft for $102 million USD (excluding taxes), while the remaining three were purchased in July 2023 for $150 million USD (excluding taxes). With a total of nine aircraft ordered, from the originally anticipated six CC-330s, Canada is making sure it can meet mandates set out in the air-to-air refuelling (AAR) initiative announced as part of its investments in NORAD modernization.
The additional air-to-air refuelling initiative is an integral part of Canada’s investments in NORAD modernization. The aircraft will be able to refuel not only current and future Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) fighter aircraft including the F-35, but also fighter aircraft used by the US as part of NORAD and by NATO partners.
“As autocratic regimes threaten the rules-based international order, there is a pressing need to modernize the capabilities of the Royal Canadian Air Force in support of NATO and NORAD operations,” Canadian defense minister Anita Anand commented.
“The Strategic Tanker Transport Capability brought forward today with the contract award for renewed air-to-air refuelling, strategic transport and aeromedical evacuation capabilities, will deliver modern equipment for our Canadian Armed Forces, who put their lives on the line every single day to defend our shared continent with the US, and support our allies in time of need.”
“As the world’s most advanced multirole tanker aircraft, the A330 MRTT perfectly matches Canada’s needs to protect its sovereignty as well as to enhance operations both in the NORAD as well as in NATO,” said Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space.
The A330 MRTT, based on Airbus’ A330-200 jetliner, undergoes assembly in Toulouse, France, before being sent to the conversion center in Getafe, Spain, where it receives refueling systems and military avionics.
In the MRTT configuration, the aircraft can carry up to 111 tons in aerial refueling, featuring a center-line Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS), fly-by-wire controlled, delivering a fast fuel flow rate.
The Royal Canadian Air Force, the 15th customer for the A330 MRTT, is among the 76 orders for the aircraft, with the first delivery scheduled for 2027.