France has decided to bring forward the delivery of its 12 Airbus A330 MRTT tankers, so all will be in service by 2023 and not 2025, as previously planned. It also said it will order three more. French Defence Minister Florence Parly decided to accelerate the delivery of MRTT Phénix tanker-transport aircraft: by 2023, the French Air Force will have 12.
At the conclusion of a meeting of the Ministerial Investment Committee, the Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) was tasked with accelerating the deliveries of A330-Phénix Multirole Transport Tanker aircraft.
This decision is directly in line with the dynamic of the 2019-2025 military programming law, which provides for the accelerated modernization of the equipment of the forces and, in particular, their tanker aircraft fleet. It has the effect of advancing to 2023 – two years earlier than previously planned – the delivery of the twelve aircraft on order, and laying the ground for bringing the fleet to fifteen aircraft in the following years.
Thanks to its versatility, the Phoenix MRTT replaces two distinct fleets: the current fleet of in-flight refuelling tankers (C135-FR and KC135R, some of which will approach 60 years of age when they retire from service) and the A310 and A340 strategic transports used for personnel and freight.
The Phénix MRTT is based on the airframe of the Airbus A330 airliner, and extensively modified to meet its transport and tanker missions.