Britain’s new fleet of Airbus A330-based aerial tankers can’t refuel warplanes over Afghanistan or other war zones because they’re unequipped to fly in “high threat environments,” a British publication says.
The Mail said the tankers need armor, antimissile systems and early warning electronics to allow them to operate in hostile environments. Equipping the 14 Airbus tankers with that equipment would cost British taxpayers millions more, a report from Britain’s National Audit Office said.
The A330-based tankers are similar to the ones that Airbus parent EADS is contemplating offering the U.S. Air Force in a competition for a 179-plane contract. Boeing will bid its 767-based tanker in competition with the EADS plane.
The lack of sufficient protective equipment means that Britain will continue relying on its aging VC10 and Lockheed 1011-based tankers for refueling in the war zone.