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UK MoD - RAF signs deal for A330 aircraft as future tankers

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: 01 April, 2008  (Company News)
A fleet of new Airbus A330-200s will replace the RAF's TriStar and VC-10 aircraft under a £13 billion PFI deal signed 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.
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