“We thank the French Ministry of Armed Forces for its continued trust in the Airbus A330 MRTT and we are honoured to contribute to one of France’s most strategic capabilities through this programme,” said Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space. “With this new capability of the aircraft, we are preparing the future by transforming the MRTT into an in-flight communications node, as the first building block of the Multi Role Tanker Transport of tomorrow, embedded in the Future Combat Air System (FCAS).”
Standard 2 contract: Stepping stone of the Multi Role Tanker Transport of the future
The Standard 2 contract provides for the capability extension of the French MRTTs, focused on connectivity as a key pillar and also self-protection capabilities. With the aim of being connected in all circumstances, including jammed environments and extreme weather conditions, the aircraft will be equipped with the MELISSA satcom station.
These new capabilities will convert the French A330 MRTT into a high bandwidth communication relay node, with command and control capabilities, and will build the stepping stone of the A330 MRTT’s integration into the future air combat cloud within the FCAS.
The first aircraft to have the Standard 2 will be A330 MRTT No. 15, whose conversion will be carried out at Airbus’ military facilities in Getafe. It is expected to be qualified for the French Air Force in 2028. Thereafter, the upgrade to Standard 2 of the remaining 14 French A330 MRTTs will take place at the Istres Air Base in France.
10 years In-service support
The second contract covers the In-Service Support of the ‘Phénix’ fleet for 10 years, plus two optional years, at the Istres Air Base, southern France, home to the 31st Strategic Air Refuelling and Transport Wing. Airbus, as the prime contractor, together with its preferred partners in France, will be responsible for fleet modernisation, maintenance, logistics and technical support to ensure the aircraft’s operational availability. The local Airbus team in France will be doubled to support these activities.
The support services introduced under these contracts guarantee a level of availability, reactivity and resilience compatible with the requirements of the French Air Force and the Strategic Air Forces. This includes support for aircraft deployed outside France.
Under the nickname of ‘Phénix’, the French Air and Space Force currently operates 12 A330 MRTTs, with more than 18,000 flight hours completed. France is the largest A330 MRTT customer with 15 A330 MRTT ordered.
With 79 orders from 15 countries, the A330 MRTT has a 90 percent market share outside the USA. and more than 270,000 flight hours.