In a significant development on September 5, 2023, the Indonesian Ministry of Defense (MoD) solidified its plans to enhance its defense capabilities by selecting the Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT), based on the civilian Airbus A330 for acquisition. This choice follows several years of meticulous evaluation and deliberation, and it marks a pivotal step forward in Indonesia’s efforts to modernize its military capabilities. The MoD’s announcement revealed that the acquisition plan for the Airbus A330 MRTTs has now entered the “effective contract” phase, indicating a firm commitment to bolstering the country’s air force capabilities. This crucial decision was unveiled following a high-level meeting between Indonesian Deputy Minister of Defense, M Herindra, and representatives from Airbus held in Jakarta.
The Airbus A330 MRTT is not the only product from Airbus that Indonesia has opted for. The MoD statement highlights several other Airbus defense products currently under effective contract with the Indonesian government, including the Anti-Submarine Helicopter (AKS), the H225 transport helicopter, and the A400M transport aircraft. It is noteworthy that the Indonesian Ministry of Defense’s choice of the A330 MRTT comes after four years of thorough research and analysis. During this period, Indonesia considered various tanker platforms for acquisition, including the Boeing KC-46A and the Ilyushin Il-78, alongside the A330 MRTT. The selection of the Airbus A330 MRTT was contingent on factors such as funding options and potential transfer-of-technology arrangements, indicating a meticulous and thoughtful approach to this crucial decision.
One of the key considerations in the selection process was the requirement for the chosen tanker to support both hose-and-drogue and flying boom aerial refueling methods. This ensures compatibility with the Indonesian Air Force’s diverse fleet of air assets, enhancing operational flexibility and effectiveness. This decision to acquire the Airbus A330 MRTT was further informed by previous studies conducted by the Indonesian Air Force. Officials from the TNI-AU had been evaluating both the A330 MRTT and Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tankers as part of a future modernization program. Compatibility with existing aircraft, life-cycle costs, interoperability with current and future assets, and potential funding and technology transfer options were all meticulously assessed during this process.
The Airbus A330 MRTT has already garnered recognition and trust from a total of 16 countries, with approximately 68 aircraft ordered and 51 delivered by November 2020. This aircraft boasts a maximum fuel capacity of 111,000 kg (245,000 lb), without the need for additional fuel tanks, leaving ample space for up to 45,000 kg (99,000 lb) of additional cargo. In terms of versatility, the A330 MRTT stands out with a cabin that can be tailored to carry up to 380 passengers in a single-class configuration, making it suitable for a wide range of missions, from troop transport to VIP and guest missions. Moreover, it can be adapted for Medical Evacuation (Medevac) missions, accommodating up to 130 standard stretchers. The cargo capabilities of the A330 MRTT are equally impressive, capable of transporting military pallets, civilian unit load devices (ULDs), and a variety of other large items, all loaded through a spacious cargo door.