Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Singapore Air Force issues tanker RFI to replace KC-135/KC-130s

RSAF KC-130H tanker

Aviationweek, quoting "industry sources", is reporting that Singapore has issued a Request For Information (RFI) for six aerial refueling tankers to replace it's fleet of KC-135Rs and KC-130B/Hs tankers in the Republic of Singapore Air Force's inventory, with a Request For Proposals expected to be issued as soon as the middle of this year.

It is unclear which platform/manufacturers the RSAF has issued the RFI to, but it is almost certain to include EADS/Airbus for the A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport, which made a last minute two-day appearance during the trade day component of the recently concluded Singapore airshow. The aircraft involved was Royal Air Force A330 Voyager MRTT016/ZZ330 which took a scenic deviation from it's flight test schedule from Getafe, Spain for the show.

Other possible contenders for the RSAF tanker contract would be Israel Aircraft Industries' Bedek Division, which has been converting Boeing 767s sourced from the commercial market into tankers for the Colombian Air Force. Boeing's 767-based KC-46A could be another contender, although industry sources feel that with the USAF's mammoth 180-aircraft order keeping the KC-46 line busy till 2018, the RSAF's requirement may come too soon for it to be a serious contender. Both companies were also promoting their tankers at the airshow, although only Airbus had a flying example present at the static display.

Graphic showing the MRTT's multi-role capability. Click on thumbnail for high resolution image (RAAF)

Should the Airbus MRTT be selected, it's configuration will be very similar to that delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), with a provision for a refueling boom in the centre refueling station, rather than a refueling basket as on the RAF Voyager due to the RSAF's combat fleet soon to consist only of aircraft utilising the boom and receptacle refueling method.

The number of tankers in the RFI has surprised some observers, considering that the RAAF is set to operate 5 MRTTs. However we have already covered this issue last August and stumped for 6 aircraft being the most plausible number due to a combination of factors, not least being that the RSAF would most likely have a requirement for their next tanker to be used regularly as a transport in addition to their tanker duties, supporting frequent Singapore military training exercises abroad.

No comments:

Post a Comment