AFM contributor Dietmar Fenners captured the first A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) for the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) on July 6. The tanker, MRTT041 (c/n MSN1735, with the temporary French civil registration F-UJCG) was departing Manching in Germany and returning to Torrejón in Spain. While in Germany, the aircraft received its service paint scheme, including Groupe de Ravitaillement en Vol (GRV) 2/91 ‘Bretagne’ markings on the tail and 31ème Escadre Aérienne de Ravitaillement et de Transport Stratégiques (31ème EARTS) markings under the cockpit.
This initial A330 MRTT for France made its maiden flight from Getafe on September 7 last year. MRTT041 is the first of nine ordered by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) in late 2014, and the manufacturer expects options for another three aircraft to be exercised. In French service the MRTT will be named Phénix.
MRTT041 was 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 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 before the end of the year. The next is expected in 2019, with remaining aircraft to be delivered at a rate of one or two per year.