France's Minister of the Armed Forces, Florence Parly, announced on September 3 that three additional Airbus A330s have been ordered for conversion into Phénix Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft.
The General Directorate of Armaments (DGA), France’s defence procurement agency, signed a €200m contract with the manufacturer for the aircraft on August 25. The first two green airframes will be delivered at the end of 2020, followed by the third in 2022. All three will eventually be converted into A330 MRTT Phénix configuration.
They will join 12 others already on order, three of which have been delivered, with the final one due in 2023. With the additional three bringing the total to 15, it will enable withdrawal of the two A310s and A340s currently in service and standardisation of the fleet on the MRTT.
Plans for the order had first been revealed in an announcement by Florence Parly on June 9 as part of the French government’s Plan Aero initiative to support the French aerospace industry in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
That €15 billion stimulus package also included plans to order eight H225M Caracals and bring forward orders for a third King Air 350ER Vador ALSR intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft, along with Naval VSR700 rotary-wing and SurveyCopter Alianca mini-UAVs. In addition, ten new Airbus Helicopters H160s will be purchased to replace some of the Gendarmerie’s AS350B Ecureuils and two attrition replacement H145s will be ordered for the Sécurité Civile fleet.