Airbus secures €1.2 billion in contracts to enhance French A330 MRTT fleet


Airbus will develop the Standard 2 of the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) Phénix tanker for the French Air and Space Force. 

Airbus Defence and Space secured two contracts worth a total of €1.2 billion with France’s Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) and Direction de la Maintenance Aéronautique (DMAé) to improve the A330 MRTT’s connectivity and self-protection features and secure its in-service support for the next decade. 

Integrating the A330 MRTT into the FCAS 

The Standard 2 contract awarded by the DGA will equip the fleet with a MELISSA satellite communications antenna, providing access to the French military satellite constellation SYRACUSE IV, including in jammed environments and extreme weather conditions. It will also improve the aircraft’s self-protection capabilities. 

“The A330 MRTT Phénix fleet will thus have a high-speed, sovereign and secure communications capacity, associated with increased means of transmission as part of the implementation of the air deterrent component,” the French procurement agency explained in a statement. “A true communication node between C2 resources (command and control) and the entire aeronautical bubble that surrounds it, the A330 MRTT Phénix will occupy a central place in the aeronautical connectivity system.” 

Connectivity is one of the major focuses of the Future Combat Air System or FCAS program, a ‘system of systems’ built around a sixth-generation fighter jet. The program includes the development of an ‘air combat cloud’ that will see various manned aircraft and unmanned air assets (Remote Carriers) collaborate. 

Airbus and the DGA have not detailed the enhancements to self-protection capabilities. AeroTime sent a request for comment. 

(Credit: DGA)

The French Air Force A330 MRTT No. 15 will be the first aircraft to receive the Standard 2 upgrade. Its conversion will take place at Airbus’ military facilities in Getafe, Spain, and is expected to be qualified for the French Air Force by 2028. The remaining 14 French A330 MRTTs will undergo the Standard 2 upgrade at the Istres Air Base in France, home to the 31st Strategic Air Refueling and Transport Wing of the French Air Force. 

In addition to the Standard 2 contract, Airbus Defence and Space, in collaboration with Rolls-Royce, secured a second contract for the in-service support of the French A330 MRTT Phénix fleet for the next 10 years, with the option to extend for two more years. This support will be based at the Istres Air Base. 

The French A330 MRTT Phénix fleet currently consists of 12 aircraft, with more than 18,000 flight hours completed. Under the French Military Programming Law (LPM) 2024-2030, the fleet will expand to a total of 15 aircraft before 2030, making France the largest A330 MRTT customer. 

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