Lockheed Martin and Airbus have signed an agreement to jointly explore opportunities to meet the growing demand for aerial refuelling for US defence customers.
The companies will seek to provide aerial-refuelling services to address any identified capacity shortfall and to meet requirements for the next generation of tankers capable of operating in the challenging environments of the future battlespace.
“Reliable and modernized aerial refuelling is an essential capability for our customers to maintain their global reach and strategic advantage,” said Lockheed Martin Chairman, President and CEO Marillyn Hewson. “By combining the innovation and expertise of Airbus and Lockheed Martin, we will be well positioned to provide the United States Air Force and allies around the world with the advanced refuelling solutions needed to meet 21st-century security challenges.”
“The US Air Force deserves the best aerial-refuelling technology and performance available under the sun and this great industry team, Lockheed Martin and Airbus, will offer exactly that,” said Tom Enders, Airbus CEO.
The companies are taking a cooperative approach, with the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (A330 MRTT) at its heart, to examine a broad spectrum of opportunities. These may range from ways to support critical near-term air-refuelling needs, such as a fee-for-service structure to conceptualizing the tanker of the future.
Airbus Defence and Space Head of Military Aircraft Fernando Alonso said: “The A330 MRTT has been selected by a dozen nations around the world. It is extensively proven in live operations and has been repeatedly praised by major air forces. We are convinced that the combination of Airbus’ tanker expertise with Lockheed Martin’s extensive US presence, has the potential to provide highly effective solutions for current and future US military aerial-refuelling requirements.”
Lockheed Martin has a long and successful history of systems integration, manufacturing and MRO operations with large airlift and tanker aircraft. When combined with Airbus’ expertise, the two companies will field a strong team to address future air refuelling needs.
“Airbus is an industry leader in the aerial refuelling area, and Lockheed Martin is known for cutting-edge defensive technologies and capabilities,” said Michele Evans, Executive Vice President, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. “This is a great opportunity for our two companies to combine our expertise – cooperating to develop world-class solutions for critical needs around the world.”
Madrid, 4 December 2018
Comment: This agreement comes a little bit late, now that the US Air Force has decided for the KC-46, a tanker made by Boeing on basis of its 767. The only advantage of the A330MRTT in this race is that it is already operational for many years.