French AF officially welcomes first Phénix tanker
A ceremony was held at Istres air base on 19th October to mark the arrival of the French AF's first Phénix A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT).
A ceremony was held at Istres air base on 19th October in the presence of French armed forces minister Florence Parly to celebrate the arrival of the French AF's first Phénix A330 multi-role tanker transport (MRTT).
The ceremony was acccompanied by a fly-by featuring two Rafales, the new A330 and one of the ageing Boeing C135s that the Phénix will gradually replace. The first C135 entered service with the French AF 55 years ago. The MRTT will also replace French AF A310s and A340s currently used for strategic transport missions.
The minister visited the new dedicated maintenance centre that has been built for the Phénix fleet, which will comprise 12 aircraft by 2023 and 15 aircraft in the longer term.
Operated by the French strategic air forces, the Phénix fleet marks the modernisation of the French AF's airborne nuclear deterrence capability.
The French AF has already kicked off a test campaign with the new aircraft with the goal of declaring initial operational capability within one year.