Airbus Defence and Space has been selected by the French Ministry of Defence to supply 12 A330 MRTT new generation air-to-air refuelling aircraft for the French Air Force. The first delivery is foreseen for 2018, followed by the second in 2019, and then at a rate of one or two per year.
The contract agreed between the French procurement agency, la Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), and Airbus Defence and Space is now ready for the official award. The contract covers the development and qualification of the specific French configuration as well as the associated support and training systems, such as spares, ground support equipment, training devices and five years of in-service support from first delivery.
France’s choice of the A330 MRTT makes it the sixth nation to order the type following Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom which have ordered a total of 34 aircraft. In addition, India and Qatar have selected the MRTT and are in the final stages of contractual negotiations for six and two aircraft respectively. A total of 22 aircraft are currently in service and the aircraft has been battle-proven in recent coalition actions.
The A330 MRTT has won every major tanker aircraft procurement competition outside the USA since it has entered the market.
Airbus Defence and Space Executive Vice President Military Aircraft, Domingo Ureña Raso said: “The French Air Force has enormous experience in the field of air-to-air refuelling. It knows the factors which are critical to success and its selection of the A330 MRTT is a real honour for us. In addition it is a long-standing operator of our transport aircraft and as always we are particularly proud in gaining the further confidence of an existing customer.”
In French service the A330 MRTT will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines, be equipped with a combination of the Airbus Refuelling Boom System and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, and can be configured in a variety of layouts carrying up to 271 passengers as well as medevac arrangements including the French MORPHEE intensive care module carrying up to ten patients as well as 88 passengers.