Home Military Aviation French Air Force A330 Phénix Tanker flies 3,500km to help refuel French Navy Rafale Jets

French Air Force A330 Phénix Tanker flies 3,500km to help refuel French Navy Rafale Jets

by Dario Leone
French Air Force A330 Phénix Tanker flies 3,500km to help refuel French Navy Rafale Jets

The sortie lasted nearly 14 hours and made possible to carry out the first aircraft air-to-air refueling mission in the context of Operation Chammal that underlines the French commitment OIR.

A French Air Force A330 Phénix aerial refueling tanker took off from Istres on Feb. 15, 2020 to help refuel French Navy Rafale M fighters in the Mediterranean.

According to the French DoD press release”The sortie lasted nearly 14 hours and made possible to carry out the first aircraft air-to-air refueling mission in the context of Operation Chammal that underlines the French commitment to Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). This sortie also proves that the new French Air Force tanker aircraft is capable to operate in a complex environment as well to integrate with allied air assets.”

The A330 flew 3,500km and offloaded 20 tonnes of fuel to the Rafale M fighters from Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier that were supporting Operation Inherent Resolve missions over Iraq.

Based on the successful Airbus A330-200 airliner, the A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is the benchmark for multi-role tankers.

The A330 MRTT it has been ordered by the Royal Air Force, French Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Force, among others. Named Voyager in service with the Royal Air Force, the aircraft entered into service in the UK in 2012. The first French Air Force A330 MRTT Phénix (as it is known in the French service) was delivered to the Istres air base in south-eastern France, in 2018. 

The A330 MRTT is capable of carrying a payload of up to 45 tonnes/99,000 lb. Its fast fuel flow rate (up to a maximum of 3,600 kg/min – 1,200 US gal/min) makes its Aerial Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) the most capable new-generation flight-proven boom available. Under-wing pods provide simultaneous hose and drogue refuelling at high fuel offload rate (1,300 kg/min – 420 US gal/min), allowing receivers to minimise refuelling time and increase operation efficiency.

Photo credit: Etat-major des armées ©

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