The French Air and Space Force’s Escadron de Transport (Transport Squadron) 3/60 ‘Estérel’ accepted its second of three Airbus A330-243 strategic transports at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport on December 15.
The second-hand aircraft, registration F-UJCT, sports the colours of the French Republic and was delivered to the unit by a crew from the nation’s Military Air Expertise Center (CEAM). This delivery closely follows the handover of the first example – registration F-UJCS – which arrived in the same fashion on November 26, 2020. The French Air and Space Force states that a third, new-build example will roll of Airbus’ production line in Toulouse and be delivered to the air arm in mid-2022.
Following the delivery of the second aircraft, Capt Julien of Escadron de Transport 3/60’s air activity section said: “We have already carried out an experimental campaign on the first A330-200 which arrived three weeks ago. On the basis of these numerous in-flight assessments and process checks, the operational commissioning of the second A330-200 will be much faster.”
The procurement of a single new-build A330-200 and two second-hand examples comes as part of the French government’s aerospace support plan, which was announced on June 9, 2020. It will enable the air arm to accelerate the withdrawal of its ageing fleets of two Airbus A310-300s and two A340-211s, with the latter being retired at the end of this year.
At a later date, these new A330s will be converted to an A330 Phénix Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT)-standard configuration, bringing the service’s fleet up to 15 aircraft. France intends to replace several older fleets of strategic transport and tanker platforms with the A330.