MELBOURNE, Australia — Singapore will take delivery of its first Airbus Defence and Space A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport later this year, as the country’s Air Force celebrates its 50th anniversary.
According to a news release issued by Singapore’s Defence Ministry detailing events and activities that the Republic of Singapore Air Force will hold to mark the anniversary, the A330 MRTT will make its first public appearance at a parade on Sept. 1, the date the service was formed in 1968 as the Singapore Air Defence Command.
Am Air Force spokesperson told Defense News that the exact date of the aircraft’s arrival is still being finalized and more details will be announced closer to the event.
The latest photos of the aircraft — taken at Toulouse, France, in November 2017 during the testing and evaluation phase following the conversion to the tanker configuration — show it still in its tan primer and not yet painted in the Air Force’s colors.
Singapore announced its order of six A330 MRTTs in March 2014 to recapitalize its fleet of midair refueling tankers. The Air Force currently operates a fleet of four Boeing KC-135R Stratotankers, acquired and refurbished in 2000 from stored ex-U.S. Air Force airframes.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force also has about five of its 10 Lockheed Martin C-130B/H Hercules airlifters plumbed for the tanker role, although they are no longer used in this role, as the Air Force currently does not operate aircraft equipped for refueling by probe.
The first Air Force A330 MRTT will be delivered in what is known as the MRTT Enhanced configuration, featuring a package of aerodynamic improvements, structural modifications and avionics updates over the previous baseline military variant. France and South Korea will also be receiving their A330 MRTTs in this standard.
The A330 MRTTs will be used to support Singapore’s Air Force and possibly its Army training exercises overseas, the latter acting as a transport with a capacity of almost 300 passengers, or almost 75,000 pounds of cargo, in addition to the 245,000 pounds of fuel it can carry and offload.
Due to Singapore’s small size, limited training areas and tropical climate, the southeast Asian country’s armed forces regularly train overseas, with the Air Force’s Singapore-based Boeing F-15SG Eagle fighters and Lockheed Martin F-16C/D Fighting Falcon jets regularly deploying to Australia, Thailand and India for training.
Mike Yeo is the Asia correspondent for Defense News.