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Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft

Volume 474: debated on Monday 31 March 2008

I am pleased to announce that the Ministry of Defence has signed a 27-year Private Finance Initiative contract with AirTanker Ltd, to provide a replacement air-to-air refuelling and strategic air transport capability for our armed forces. The Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft (FSTA) service will replace our VC10 and TriStar aircraft from 2011.

FSTA is an innovative PFI programme that will provide modern air-to-air refuelling and passenger air transport capability. Since June 2007, the Department has been working with AirTanker to raise the necessary private sector funds. This work has now been completed and I congratulate all those involved in securing the deal.

The contract will provide a comprehensive and integrated service solution, based on new Airbus A330 aircraft modified to provide air-to-air refuelling capability. It will include provision of purpose designed training and maintenance facilities at RAF Brize Norton, together with through life training and maintenance support services.

Air-to-air refuelling and strategic passenger air transport are key capabilities in this era of expeditionary operations. This announcement is excellent news for our armed forces, for the taxpayer, for AirTanker, and for UK industry.