The French Ministry of Defence has placed a firm order for eight A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft with Airbus Defence and Space, based on a contract signed in November 2014.
One MRTT was ordered previously from the 2014 contract, which has scope for 12 aircraft. The remaining three are expected to be confirmed in 2018.
France will receive its first A330 MRTT from the lot in 2018, second in the following year, and the rest will be received at a rate of one or two a year up to 2025.
A derivative of the A330-200 airliner, the A330 MRTT is claimed to be the only new generation strategic tanker / transport aircraft currently available.
With a fuel capacity of 111 tonnes, the MRTT is capable of undertaking air-to-air refuelling missions without the need for an additional fuel tank.
The aircraft doubles up as a transport plane with a capacity to carry 300 troops, and can also be deployed on medical evacuation missions accommodating up to 130 stretchers.
Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines will power the French version of the A330 MRTT, which will be equipped with a combination of the Airbus Refuelling Boom System and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.
The 2014 contract awarded by la Direction Ge´ne´rale de l'Armement (DGA) includes associated support and training systems, such as spares, ground support equipment, training devices and five years of in-service support from first delivery.
In addition to France, the A330 MRTT has been so far ordered by Australia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the UAE, the UK and Qatar.
Airbus has firm orders for 49 MRTTs, of which 26 have been delivered.
Image: The A330 MRTTs. Photo: courtesy of Airbus Defence and Space.