Multirole Tanker

On 2 July 2019, the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) received the second A330-MRTT Phénix multi-role tanker aircraft (MultiRole Tanker Transport) at Air Base 125 in Istres. This aircraft was delivered to the Air Force three months early and with a first MedEvac (Medical Evacuation) capability, so as to reach full operational capability in the fall.

The French Air Force’s second A330 tanker/transport aircraft at Istres air base. Visible in the background are two of the aircraft it will replace: the upgraded C-135F Stratotanker (right) and the Airbus A310 transport (FR AF photo)

It will allow medicalized transport of a dozen very seriously injured patients, or the medical transport of 40 lightly-injured patients requiring less medical assistance.

The MRTT Phénix is based on the airframe of the Airbus A330 airliner, militarized to allow it to meet its specific mission requirements: support of the air component of the nuclear deterrent; contribution to the permanent security posture; projection of forces and medicalized transport in case of emergency medical evacuation.

Thanks to its versatility, the MRTT Phoenix replaces two distinct fleets for this entire range of missions: the current in-flight refueling fleet of C135-FR and KC135R, and the strategic personnel and freight transport fleet of A310 and A340.

The military programming law 2019-2025 provides for the acceleration of the modernization of the equipment of the forces, and in particular of the tanker aircraft fleet. It will bring forward to 2023, two years earlier than planned, the delivery of the first twelve aircraft, and creating the conditions allowing a subsequent increase of the fleet to fifteen aircraft in following years.

Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes this early delivery: «The Phoenix is an essential aircraft for the French forces, and for and our deterrence. It will replace aircraft, some of which are 60 years old, and represents a real revolution for the Air Force. Its versatility makes it a technological marvel, and it is an undeniable industrial success and an example of what a great European company – Airbus – knows how to build».

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