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February 2006

The Canadian Forces currently maintains a fleet of five Airbus A310 aircraft, known locally as the CC-150 Polaris, which performs several duties, including: passenger (and VIPS) transport, airlift capabilities, and medical evacuations. This sphere of operations has recently been expanded through the conversion of two of the aircraft into the A310 Multi-Role Tanker Transport so that they may perform air-to-air refueling operations.

The A310 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is a conversion program offered by the cooperation of Airbus and Lufthansa Technik (LHT).  First undertaken by the German Luftwaffe, which converted four of their seven A310 transport planes, the Canadian military became the second global customer. Both air forces received their first converted aircraft in September 2004. The conversion program is a prelude to Airbus A330 MRTT project which will create a dedicated air-to-air refueling platform from the ground up based on the A330 structure. It also marks the further expansion into the military aircraft sector by Airbus, which is also developing the A400M, a tactical transporter which will compete with the iconic C130 Hercules of Lockheed Martin. The use of specialized modules will allow the converted aircraft to also be able to perform the traditional duties of passenger and cargo transport in addition to its new specialty.

The conversion of the Polaris to the MRTT version involves five phases:

  1. Installation of two air-to-air refueling pods under each wing;
  2. Four additional fuel tanks (extra 28,000kg) - giving total capacity of almost 78,000kg;
  3. Fuel Operator Station (FOS) to control fuel offload, cameras etc, military radios and exterior lighting;
  4. Reinforced wings and aircraft floor; and
  5. Minor cockpit modifications.

The Fuel Operator Station will utilize a night-vision, and infrared, equipped video system to permit the conduction of refueling operations in all conditions.

The acquisition of the MRTT variant of the Polaris is an important part of the Canadian military’s modernization program for the Air Force. The two converted Polaris aircraft, with planned modifications to their airframes under the program, will be able to serve in the air-to-air refueling mission for decades to come. This will allow the overworked Hercules fleet, which can perform air-to-air refueling, to focus on tactical transport missions instead.

source: Department of National Defence/Canadian Forces

Length 46.66 m
Wingspan 43.9 m
Height 15.8 m
Weight 157,000 kg (full load & fuel)
Power Two GE CF6-80C2A2 jet engines
Speed Mach .84 (max)
Ceiling 12,500 m
Range 11,500 km
Load up to 32,000 kg
Year(s) Procured 1992 to 1993
Quantity in the Canadian Forces 5
Location(s): 8 Wing Trenton

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