Airbus A330 Variant Set To Become Next Canadian Government Jet

The Canadian government has been looking for aircraft to replace its Air Force’s five aging CC-150 jets. The aircraft are military adaptations of the Airbus A310-300s, which can be tasked to transport Canada’s Prime Minister on international missions. Recent reporting indicates that Airbus has been deemed the only qualified supplier for the new aircraft – which will also include aerial refueling capabilities (as tankers).

A depiction of the Airbus A330-200 in Canada’s retro VIP transport livery. Photo: Simple Flying

An estimated $4 billion deal

According to The Ottawa Citizen, Airbus has emerged as “the only qualified supplier” to deliver the Canadian government’s new fleet of refueling planes and VIP aircraft.

Sources estimate that this deal, which is expected to consist of six aircraft, could be worth as much as C$5 billion (US$4 billion)- although the final cost is yet to be determined.

The aircraft that will fill the position within the Royal Canadian Air Force is Airbus’ A330 MRTT, which stands for Multi-Role Tanker Transport. The type, based on the A330-200 airframe, is dual-role in that it is capable of providing aerial refueling as well as transportation.

The official at the Department of National Defence’s procurement office, overseeing major air and land equipment projects, noted that discussions would begin with Airbus soon. It is during these discussions that the Canadian government will outline the specific capabilities needed. An RFP (request for proposal) is expected to be issued later this year.

This procurement project will cover a long span of time as it is hoped that the contract will be in place before Spring 2024, with the first of the jets operational in 2028.

The jet responsible for transporting the Prime Minister for faraway duties is nicknamed “Can Force One.” The jet is currently a CC-150 Polaris, which is based on the Airbus A310. Photo: Getty Images

“The A330 is a large aircraft with a large fuel capacity in its wings…You actually can do strategic air-to-air refueling mission while taking on a load of passengers. You can do both simultaneously.” -Terry Wood, Procurement Office, Department of National Defence via The Ottawa Citizen

Industry sources noted that Canada had also received a response to its request from Boeing, which had offered the 767-based KC-46.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

The ‘outgoing’ A310s

The aircraft type that the A330 MRTTs will replace is designated the CC-150 Polaris, which is based on the Airbus A310. According to Planespotters.net, there are five of these jets in the RCAF fleet, with two being MRTT variants.

Only one aircraft, registered as 15001, has the specific role of being a VIP transport for Canada’s Prime Minister. The average age of all five aircraft is 33.5 years.

Only one CC-150 is configured for a VIP transport role. Photo: Jeroen Stores Aviation Photography via Flickr 

“The CC-150 Polaris is a multi-purpose, long-range aircraft used for military-passenger, freight or medical transport. Two of the Royal Canadian Air Force’s CC-150s are equipped for air-to-air refuelling, and each can carry enough fuel to ferry four CF-188 Hornet fighter aircraft across the Atlantic Ocean.” -Royal Canadian Air Force

Other countries using the A330 MRTT

A number of other countries and their militaries have also ordered the A330 MRTT. The list includes Australia, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, and the United Arab Emirates.

RAF VOyager
RAF Voyager – nicknamed “Boris Force One” is also an Airbus A330 MRTT, tasked with transporting the UK Prime Minister on his overseas visits. Photo: Getty Images

NATO is also a customer of the A330 MRTT, having purchased eight. Last June, Airbus delivered the first of these aircraft to the NATO Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF).

Six countries of the MMF (Netherlands, Luxembourg, Norway, Germany, Belgium, and the Czech Republic) will operate the aircraft in a pooling arrangement for in-flight refueling, personnel transport, cargo, and medical evacuation missions – according to Aviation Today.

Do you think the A330 MRTT is the right aircraft for the job? Or should a different jet be chosen? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.

121 Shares: