Australia’s third mission-equipped Airbus Military A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) has made its first flight, prime contractor EADS North America recently said.

EADS is offering an A330 MRTT-based tanker, the KC-45, to the U.S. Air Force. Parent company Airbus will begin deliveries of A330 MRTTs this year to its first operator, the Royal Australian Air Force.

The first two A330 MRTTs built for Australia have performed more than 1,300 aerial refueling contacts and transferred more than one million pounds of fuel, using the same advanced Aerial Refueling Boom System (ARBS) and digital under-wing refueling pods offered on the KC-45. The Australian aircraft also is configured with a Link 16 real-time data link for airborne connectivity, along with a directional infrared countermeasures (DIRCM) system, among other defensive systems.

The third Australian A330 MRTT was converted to its tanker/transport configuration by Qantas Engineering in Brisbane, Australia. During its four-hour maiden flight, the aircraft reached an altitude of 41,000 feet and performed a series of preplanned trials of test equipment, handling qualities, performance and systems in a full range of mission situations. This is the fifth A330 MRTT currently flying, including two aircraft for the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force.

The A330 MRTT is in production today for four U.S. allies. Australia, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have ordered a total of 28 tankers.

The KC-45 variant of the A330 MRTT would be built at a new American aerospace center in Mobile, Ala., if EADS is awarded the U.S. contract.