For the first time, the French Air Force Airbus A330 MRTT Phénix and the US Air Force Boeing KC-46 tankers will be introduced at the Paris Air Show. Two aircraft currently in competition on the international market.
This year, two massive aircraft will make their first appearance at the Paris Air Show: two tankers currently entering into service on each side of the Atlantic Ocean. The Phénix goes to the French Air Force while the KC-46 Pegasus, whose delivery has already started, is now the property of the U.S. Air Force.
The two derive from civil aircraft’s models. The KC-46 is a military version of the 767 while the MRTT comes from the A330. The aircraft are equipped with aerial refueling systems: wing aerial refueling pods and a rigid fuel delivery boom under the fuselage. Additionally to the aerial refueling system, the Pegasus is equipped with some military systems like mission, communication and auto-protection systems. But both are multipurpose aircraft since they can operate transport mission as well.
KC-46 and A330 MRTT are competitors on the international market. But for now, the European aircraft is the one with more contracts. The A330 MRTT has indeed been ordered by Australia, the UK, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France, South Korea and Singapour. The MRTT has also been chosen to complete the European Multination Multi-Role Tanker Transport Fleet (MMF) which is going to be set by Germany, Nederland, Belgium, Luxembourg and Norway and will be owned by NATO.
Sixty A330 MRTT in total have been ordered all around the world, 35 of which have already been delivered. As of now, France has ordered twelve A330 MRTT but forecasts a total order of 15 aircraft. The French Air Force version is named Phénix. The aircraft possesses mission and communication systems different from other MRTTs.
So far, the KC-46 Pegasus has only been ordered by the US and Japan. But the U.S. Air Force order already amounts to 52 aircraft and could rise up to 179 Pegasus. Japan has ordered two KC-46, for now. Even if a relevant part of the market has already been carried off by Airbus, Boeing hopes to gain some contracts and especially in Europe.