|French Air Force releases first air to air pics of its A330 MRTT.|
On July 7, 2018 the Armee de l'Air (French Air Force) released the first air to air shots of its brand new A330 MRTT tanker aircraft.
The aircraft ‘MRTT041’ (c/n 1735, ex F-WWCK, EC-330) successfully completed its maiden flight on September 7, 2017. It was built in the Toulouse assembly line as a standard A330-243 and made its first flight there on June 15, 2016. One month later, it flew to Getafe to begin the conversion process into an MRTT aircraft.
The type will be known as Phénix (Phoenix) in French service. France’s procurement agency, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA – General Directorate of Armament) has ordered nine A330MRTTs to date for the French Air Force with an option for further three planes, which are expected to be confirmed this year. According to unofficial rumors, the final target of France is to buy 15 planes. The MRTT will replace the current C-135FR/KC-135RG fleets, but also the two A340s and three A310s of the FAF transport squadron.
The first French aircraft is the second new standard A330 MRTT to fly, featuring structural modifications, aerondynamic improvements giving a fuel burn reduction of up to 1%, upgraded avionics computers and enhanced military systems. The first of these enhanced variants, destined for the Republic of Singapore Air Force, had flown from Getafe on September 30, 2016.
The French Phénix fleet will be in a three-point tanker configuration with the Airbus Aerial Refuelling Boom System under the rear fuselage and hose-and-drogue refuelling pods under each wing. It will be able to carry 272 passengers or be configured for medical evacuation missions. Eight countries have ordered a total of 51 A330 MRTTs to date, of which 29 have been delivered.
Written by Matteo Sanzani
Images: French AF