On July 10, 2020, the French Defense Procurement Agency (Directorate General of Armaments; DGA) received its third A330 Phoenix Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) refueling aircraft at Air Base 125 in Istres, four months ahead of schedule. The order for three additional A330 aircraft was announced as part of the aerospace support plan following the Covid-19 crisis. The program, provided for in the 2019-2025 Military Planning Law (LPM) was accelerated to allow the delivery of the first 12 MRTTs, two of which in advance of the deadline.Planned by the military programming law (LPM) 2019-2025, deliveries of the first 12 MRTTs have been accelerated by two years. The final aircraft will be delivered in 2023 instead of 2025.
The Airbus A330 Phoenix Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) is an aerial refuelling tanker aircraft based on the civilian Airbus A330 to meet a range of military missions, including support of the air force nuclear deterrent; contribution to the permanent security posture; projection of forces and emergency medical evacuation. A total of 12 nations have placed firm orders for approximately 60 aircraft, of which 42 had been delivered by 31 January 2020. Thanks to its versatility, the Phoenix replaces two separate aircraft fleets on all of their missions: in-flight refueling (C135-FR and KC135R) and long-range strategic personnel and freight transport (A310 and A340).
In November 2011, France expressed interest in acquiring 14 A330 MRTTs to replace its KC-135 tankers, A340 and A310 transports; one year later, it was announced that 14 would be ordered in 2013. On 20 February 2014, the French Chief of Staff stated that 12 A330 MRTTs would be acquired in two batches, an initial standard configuration with a boom and wing refuelling pods and later with a cargo door and SATCOM. On 15 December 2015, France ordered eight A330 MRTTs, constituting the second tranche of a multi-year contract for 12 A330 MRTTs, worth €3 billion ($3.3 billion), signed by the French Ministry of Defence in November 2014. Initial deliveries were expected in 2018, with further handovers of one or two per year until 2025.
In September 2018, the French Defense Procurement Agency) announced plans to speed up delivery of the Airbus A330 MRTT Phénix (Phoenix), as it is known in French service, by two years, planning for the last of 12 aircraft to be delivered in 2023 rather than 2025. In addition, the DGA stated that the fleet would be later increased to 15 aircraft. Later in September, the French Air Force received the first A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport as per the existing timetable. On 13 December 2018, France ordered another three A330 MRTTs of a third tranche of the multi-year contract; these are powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engines and equipped with the ARBS and underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods.