The RCAF’s full plan for creation of a modern tanker fleet was revealed this week with the announcement that the first of four Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft will be delivered in 2028. The government has determined that Airbus is the only qualified supplier for the new tankers and it expects the deal, worth as much as $5 billion, to be signed next April. The new aircraft will add significant capabilities to the RCAF not only in terms of fuelling its future fleet of F-35 fighters but also for troop and cargo transport.
The Air Force originally planned to buy six new aircraft but it bought two used A330-200 airliners that it will paint in RCAF livery and minimally retrofit the planes to get them in service. Among their roles will be VIP transport. After the new aircraft arrive, the Air Force plans to send the used ones to Airbus for the full conversion to MRTT. The government paid about $50 million each for the airliners, which were built in 2015.