Airbus Defence & Space has secured 1.2 billion euros ($1.27 billion) in contracts for communication upgrades and maintenance of the French Air Force A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) fleet.
One of the contracts will see the extension of capability enhancement services for the communication and sell-protection systems of the MRTTs.
This project will integrate the A330ts with MELISSA satellite communication stations, sustaining the connectivity of the military aircraft in all scenarios, including extreme weather conditions and signal-contested environments.
Once completed, the A330s will become a high-bandwidth communication relay node with improved command and control technologies.
The French Air Force’s A330 MRTT No. 15 will receive the first conversion at Airbus facilities in Getafe, with qualification scheduled for 2028.
Modernization of the 14 remaining aircraft will be conducted at the Istres Air Base.
Another contract will provide in-service support for the French A330 MRTT fleet for 10 years at the Istres Air Base.
Under this agreement, Airbus will work with local industry partners to provide the aircraft with sustainment, additional updates, logistics, and technical support to retain the fleet’s operability.
Airbus wrote that this initiative will guarantee the plane’s “level of availability, reactivity, and resilience” according to French Air Force standards.
The contract will cover all French A330s deployed domestically and overseas. It includes an option for two years of in-service support extension.
Transforming France’s ‘Phénix’ Fleet
Also called the “Phénix,” the French Air Force A330 MRTT fleet comprises 12 aircraft with over 18,000 flight hours.
Airbus noted that France is the largest A330 MRTT customer, with 15 planes ordered to date.
“We thank the French Ministry of Armed Forces for its continued trust in the Airbus A330 MRTT and we are honoured to contribute to one of France’s most strategic capabilities through this programme,” Airbus Military Air Systems Head Jean-Brice Dumont stated.
“With this new capability of the aircraft, we are preparing the future by transforming the MRTT into an in-flight communications node, as the first building block of the Multi Role Tanker Transport of tomorrow, embedded in the Future Combat Air System.”
Airbus signs 2️⃣ contracts with @DGA & French Armed Forces air maintenance directorate DMAé for the Capability Enhancement & the In-Service Support of the 🇫🇷 #A330MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) fleet. To the press release: https://t.co/3io5jm5yLw@Armee_de_lair pic.twitter.com/n0zsNKxKEO
— Airbus Defence (@AirbusDefence) October 23, 2023