The first MRTT Phénix (Phoenix) for the French air force made its first flight on Thursday, September 7, 2017. This first aircraft was recently completed at the Airbus final assembly line at Getafe, Spain.
After certification flight tests carried out by the aircraft manufacturer, it will then pass into the hands of the quality and testing teams of the Directorate-General for Armaments (DGA) in view of its state qualification. Once accepted by DGA in 2018, it will be formally handed over to the Air Force.
The Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) will replace the current in-flight refueling (C135-FR and KC135R) and strategic personnel and freight (A310 and A340) aircraft with a single fleet of 12 multi-purpose wide-body aircraft. Its missions will include supporting the air force’s nuclear strike deterrent force, and contributing to the permanent posture of security, force projection and medical transport (strategic sanitary evacuation). The delivery rate of the Phenix MRTT will be from one to two units per year until 2025.
Manufactured by Airbus and derived from the civil A330 assembled in Toulouse, 42 A330 MRTTs have been ordered, and 28 already been delivered, by the United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Australia, Singapore, and Korea, in addition to France.
The European Multinational Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) has also ordered its first aircraft in 2016 (2 firm orders, 6 more on option). Interesting prospects for cooperation on training, support and employment are therefore being examined within the framework of the European Defense Agency.