FSTA TAKES OFF –AT LAST!
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
Mar 08. After ten years of development, the MoD, the City and AirTanker eventually agreed terms to the FSTA PFI contract today.
A fleet of new Airbus A330-200s will replace the RAF’s TriStar and VC-10 aircraft under a £13bn PFI deal signed today with AirTanker Ltd, announced Baroness Taylor, the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support.
The aircraft – which will be owned by AirTanker under the terms of the deal, although they will fly in RAF ‘colours’ – will undertake air to air refueling and passenger air transport tasks. The aircraft are expected to enter service around 2011, to serve for three decades.
The deal is good news for British jobs: up to 600 are expected to be created by AirTanker Ltd, and the deal will safeguard up to 3,000 jobs directly at British sites, with thousands more sustained indirectly.
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Baroness Taylor, said, “This deal represents great news for the Royal Air Force and great news for British industry and jobs. The A330s will provide a state-of-the-art air to air tanker and passenger aircraft supporting operations around the world and delivering British forces to operational theatres.”
“Achieving a satisfactory outcome to this complex, high value, PFI deal has been challenging, particularly given the factors currently affecting the financial markets. I congratulate all those involved in securing this cost effective deal.”
Commenting on the announcement, Phil Blundell, CEO of AirTanker, said, “This is a major step forward for the MOD and AirTanker. The FSTA programme provides the MoD and RAF with state-of-the-art transport and refuelling equipment, which represents a step-change in performance. The Airbus A330 FSTA fleet will deliver unrivalled levels of capability, reliability, flexibility and economy to the UK
armed forces. We are looking forward hugely to working with the MOD to put in place the new fleet and service.”
Air Chief Marshal Sir Glenn Torpy, Chief of the Air Staff said, “This is a very welcome announcement. Air-to-Air Refuelling and Strategic airlift are fundamental to the UK’s expeditionary capability and the Future Tanker is a crucial element of that capability. The A330-200 is an extremely versatile aircraft, which is ideally suited to our requirements, and I look forward both to the aircraft’s introduction in 2011, and the significant private investment in the infrastructure at RAF Brize Norton. Overall, this is excellent news for the RAF and for the UK’s Armed Forces.”
Since June 2007, the Department has been working with AirTanker to raise the necessary private sector funding. Despite the current turbulence in the world’s financial markets, AirTanker has successfully secured the necessary funding.
EADS CEO Louis Gallois commented: “We are proud to be providing the RAF with the very best air-to-air refuelling solution available internationally. The MoD’s requirements are known to be highly exacting, and we are grateful that its trust has been placed in EADS and our consortium partners, Cobham, Rolls-Royce, Thales and VT Group. For our part, this win further demonstrates the A330 as the platform of choice for the world’s refuelling fleets and comes on the back of our recent success in the US market. This award strengthens our ongoing commitment to grow our business in the UK in the long-term.”
The Military Transport Aircraft Division (MTAD) is responsible within the EADS Group for all military derivative programmes based on Airbus platforms. For the FSTA programme, MTAD will be responsible for the design and development of the A330 FSTA aircraft, and for delivering them on-time to AirTanker, fully certified and MoD qualified.
Carlos Suarez, Head of EADS Military Transport Aircraft Division, added: “With this comprehensive service contract, we now cover the full spectrum of customers’ requirements. The A330-200 based tanker solut