EADS delivered the first A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport to the Royal Australian Air Force, at RAAF base Amberley in Queensland on Wednesday, according to a company release. “This is a very major and long awaited milestone for the A330 MRTT program,” said Airbus Military CEO Domingo Ureña. He added, “We are now very keen to see it demonstrate its worth in real operations.” Converted to the tanker configuration by Quantas Defense Services in Australia, the tanker returned to Europe for paint and trim work before finally arriving at Amberley earlier in the week. EADS will deliver the second Australian tanker in June, with two more airframes slated to arrive by year’s end. The last of Australia’s five tankers on order entered conversion with Quantas this week and will be completed in 2012, said EADS. The new RAAF tankers are fitted with two wing-mounted refueling pods as well as a centerline refueling boom.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.