The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) has begun decommissioning its special convertible version of the Airbus A310 plane, called the A310 (MRTT) Multi-Role Tanker Transport. The German Air Force (Luftwaffe) was the first customer for the MRTT, converting four of their seven existing A310 MRTs, with deliveries starting in October 2004. During June 2007, EADS delivered the first upgraded A310 MRTT with new mission avionics to the German Air Force. This new mission avionics suite facilitated the allocation of the upgraded A310 MRTT to NATO Reaction Forces.
The first operational use with the German Luftwaffe took place on 4 February 2009; 11 years ago, when three German Eurofighter Typhoons of Jagdgeschwader 73 Steinhoff, lead by Colonel Andreas Schick, were refuelled en-route by an A310 MRTT tanker aircraft during their deployment from Laage Airbase (Flughafen Rostock-Laage), Rostock, Germany, to Yelahanka Air Force Station, near Bangalore, India. The flight route of nearly 8,200 kilometres (4,400 nautical miles), including a stopover at the Al Dahfra airbase in the United Arab Emirates.
The A310 MRTT is somewhat smaller than the newer A330 MRTT. Since the production of A310 airframes is discontinued, the air to air refuelling conversion can only be made on existing refurbished airliners, or as an upgrade to A310 MRTs already used by air forces. As an air tanker, it has a similar fuel capacity to the KC-135R. Because of the larger passenger cabin, it is much more flexible, offering good capacity for cargo, troop transport, VIP transport, or other uses; and lacking only the capacity to land on rough strips to qualify as a strategic transport.
The Airbus A310 MRTT Multi-Role Tanker Transport is a military air to air refuelling, or in-flight refuelling tanker transport aircraft, capable of operating multi-role missions. The A310 MRTT tanker aircraft is a subsequent development from the earlier Airbus A310 MRT Multi-Role Transport, which was a military transport aircraft for passengers, cargo, and medical evacuation. The A310 MRT and A310 MRTT are both specialist military conversions of existing airframes of the civilian Airbus A310-300C wide-bodied passenger jet airliner.