France accepts third A330 MRTT Phénix

Airbus has handed over its third A330 Multi-Role Tanker/Transport (MRTT) to the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force).

A330 MRTT Phenix [Armee de l'Air]
Airbus A330 MRTT Phénix - serial 043 (c/n 1916) - is towed passed serial 041 (c/n 1735) at Istres-Le Tubé air base, after being delivered to the French Air Force on July 10. Armée de l'Air via Facebook

Known as the Phénix in French service, the third aircraft – serial 043 (c/n 1916) – was delivered to the air arm at Istres-Le Tubé air base, northwest of Marseille, France, on July 10 – four months earlier than planned.

The French government has 12 aircraft on order, with nine still to be delivered. The final example is expected to be handed over to the French Air Force in 2023, two years earlier than planned.

The A330 MRTT will replace the service’s Boeing C-135FR and KC-135RG Stratotanker fleets in providing an air-to-air refuelling capability. The Phénix will also replace the Airbus A310-300 and A340-211 long-range strategic transports.

A330 MRTT Phenix [Armee de l'Air]
The French Air Force's current A330 MRTT Phénix tanker/transports are operated by 31e Escadre Aérienne de Ravitaillement et de Transport Stratégiques (31 EARTS, 31st Strategic Supply and Transport Air Wing) at Istres-Le Tubé air base. Armée de l'Air via Facebook

As part of the nation’s aerospace support plan, a further three examples will be acquired, bringing the French Air Force’s total fleet size to 15. The additional examples will be converted after 2025.