US-based DefenseNews is reporting France will soon place an order for 12 Airbus A330 MRTTs to replace its ageing fleet of 14 C-135FR tankers.
The report cites February 20 comments from French Chief of Staff General Denis Mercier made on the sidelines of the annual USAF Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. He said the latest French defence white paper had identified the need for the MRTT, and that the 12 aircraft will be ordered in two versions; the Airbus ‘baseline’ version with a centreline book and wingtip hose and drogue points, and a second tranche of aircraft fitted with a main deck cargo door and an enhanced communications suite. No details were given on the numbers breakdown between the two versions, but Gen Mercier did say the service had plans to upgrade all the aircraft to a common standard in the future.
If confirmed, France would be the fifth country to order the A330 MRTT after Australia, the UK, UAE and Saudi Arabia. Singapore is also believed to be close to placing an order for up to five A330s to replace its KC-135Rs.