The 31st Strategic Airlift and Air Refueling Wing of the French Air Force took delivery of its 12th Airbus A330 Phénix Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft on 20 September.
This A330 Phénix MRTT is the 12th and final aircraft ordered from Airbus, in accordance with the 2019-2025 military programming law (LPM). It is a new addition to the existing fleet at Istres Air Base 125 and is now a part of the Strategic Air Force (FAS).
With its extensive capabilities, this aircraft not only replaces the older generation Boeing C-135 fleet but also enhances the mission capabilities of the 31st squadron in strategic transport operations.
The Phénix MRTT is a significant asset of the FAS and effectively fulfils a wide range of missions assigned to it. These missions encompass nuclear deterrence, strategic transport for force projection, power projection, and expedited medical transport with necessary medical equipment.
Airbus based the A330 MRTT on its successful A330-200 jetliner. It can carry up to 111 tonnes of fuel in the aerial refuelling mission which is the highest capacity of any tanker aircraft currently in service. The A330 MRTT also serves as an efficient transport aircraft, carrying passengers on the main deck and cargo in the lower lobe.
Seating capacity is up to 300 passengers on the main deck, which also can be arranged in a medical evacuation configuration that accommodates 40 stretchers and 20 seats for medical staff, along with 100 passengers. The lower lobe – which accommodates up to 37 tonnes of cargo, can be loaded with 27 LD3 containers or eight military pallets.