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France confirms A330 tanker selection

Paris has confirmed its selection of the Airbus A330 multirole tanker transport (MRTT), with 12 of the type to replace its Boeing C/KC-135s from late this decade.

Announced on 20 November, the development will lead to the French air force receiving a first A330 MRTT in 2018 and a second in 2019, says Airbus Defence & Space. The remaining examples will follow “at a rate of one or two per year”, it adds.

“The contract agreed between the French [DGA] procurement agency and Airbus Defence & Space is now ready for official award,” the company says.

France follows Australia, India, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and the UK in selecting the type, although New Delhi and Doha have yet to conclude their planned respective orders for six and two of the aircraft. Talks with both are “in the final stages of contractual negotiations”, says the company.

Once produced, the French aircraft will be the first to be produced in an improved next-generation standard, outlined by Airbus earlier this year.

In addition to the 12 tanker/transports, the deal with France will also cover development and qualification activities, personnel training and an initial five-year package of in-service support services, Airbus says.

Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets database records the French air force as operating 14 C/KC-135 tankers.

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