French aviation magazine Air and Cosmos has reported that Singapore has reportedly signed for six Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transports) in 2013. Neither Airbus Defence and Space nor Singapore have commented on the reports. If true, Singapore will become the fifth nation to operate the A330 MRTT, after the UK, Australia, UAE and Saudi Arabia. France has also been reported to be on the verge of buying the type, along with India.
There are rumours that the MoU signed between Airbus and Singapore to be conditional upon Airbus sorting out the issues with the refueling boom and mission planning system, among others. Problems with the boom have dogged the MRTT's development, and is not expected to be solved until late this year at the earliest. This has prevented the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) from declaring Full Operational Capability with the type, which operates five aircraft, known as the KC-30A in RAAF service.
It has been reported since 2011 that Singapore has been looking for tankers to replace its elderly fleet of four Boeing KC-135R Stratotankers and ten C-130B/H Hercules (all ten can be readily configured as KC-130 tankers). Singapore is known to have issued a Request For Information (RFI) for six aerial refueling tankers back in 2012, and Boeing had previously acknowledged that its KC-46A tanker was one of the types Singapore had issued the RFI to. However with the KC-46 still in development and the USAF's mammoth 180-aircraft order, it may have difficult for Boeing to meet Singapore's delivery timeline for a new tanker.
Our previous coverage of Singapore's search for a new tanker aircraft can be accessed from the links below.