Airbus Military is on a bit of a high, having on Friday received customer commitments to stick with the A400M military airlifter and now with Saudi Arabia’s decision to double its order of A330 Multi-role Tanker Transport Aircraft.
EADS announced today that Saudi Arabia is bringing its order for MRTTs to six, after having placed an order for three of the refuelers last year. The first of those is due for handover in 2011.
Saudi Arabia will use both hose-and-drogue pods and the refueling boom system Airbus developed.
The first A330 tanker transport is due to the Royal Australian Air Force in mid-2010. The first tanker for the U.K. has recently begun conversion work to turn the A330 into a refueler.
Meanwhile, the aircraft maker, with its partner EADS and rival Boeing are still waiting for the U.S. Air Force tanker request for proposal. The release of the draft RFP has slipped and contract award is now not expected until mid-2010.
But given the chance of further delays, and protests, there's perhaps a good chance Saudi Arabia will get its first tanker before the U.S. even decides. Perhaps there's one thing the Pentagon can take away from the Saudi decision, though, and that is that a split buy doesn't make sense.