EADS North America announced Monday that the third Australian A330 multirole tanker transport aircraft has made its maiden flight. It took to the skies for four hours from the plant in Brisbane, Australia, where workers converted it to its military configuration. This is the first Australian tanker that underwent its transformation to its military standard in Australia, a development that EADS officials say underscores the company’s ability to successfully transfer A330 MRTT production and outfitting around the world. They say this is further proof that the KC-45 tanker that the company is proposing to assemble in the United States to be the Air Force’s KC-X tanker is mature and low risk—compared to rival Boeing’s 767-based NewGen Tanker design. The KC-45 has 95 percent commonality with the A330 MRTT, according to EADS. “Every day, the A330 MRTT program is demonstrating that our KC-45 offers the US Air Force a tanker solution that is in production, flying today, and proven,” said EADS North America Chairman Ralph Crosby. Australia will receive its first MRTTs by year’s end. The A330 MRTT just recently received its military certification.
The Pentagon awarded a $2.02 billion contract for Lot 17 of F-35 engines to contractor Pratt & Whitney on June 5. Work on the F135 engine is expected to be completed by December 2025.