A first example of the Airbus Defence and Space A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) for France made its maiden flight today, September 7.
In French service the MRTT will be named Phénix.
The aircraft is the first of nine ordered by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA), and the manufacturer expects options for another three aircraft to be exercised.
It is the second new-standard A330 MRTT to fly, featuring structural modifications, aerodynamic improvements giving a fuel-burn reduction of up to 1%, upgraded avionics computers and enhanced military systems.
The aircraft was converted in Getafe from a standard A330 assembled in Toulouse.
The crew reported that the aircraft performed in line with expectations during the 3h 25min flight.
The Phénix fleet will be equipped with a combination of the Airbus Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, and can carry 272 passengers or be configured for medical evacuation. First delivery is due in 2018.
The Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) currently operates 14 Stratotankers. These comprise 11 examples upgraded from existing C-135F airframes and three ex-USAF KC-135R Stratotankers that were redesignated to this common standard. The former USAF KC-135Rs were upgraded to KC-135RG from 2014.
Fifty-one A330 MRTTs have been ordered by eight nations of which 28 have been delivered.