The French Air Force reports that its first A330 Phénix in-flight refuelling aircraft flew its first mission on 22nd March.
The French Air Force reports that its new A330 Phénix in-flight refuelling aircraft flew its first mission on 22nd March, deploying to the Middle East in support of an operation to relieve two Rafale combat aircraft.
It was the first deployment since the aircraft officially received its military certificate of airworthiness on 18th March, five months after delivery. The aircraft is now attached to the 31st Air Refueling and Strategic Transport Wing.
The Phénix escorted two single-seat Rafales from the 30th Wing from Air Base 118 at Mont-de-Marsan, which relieved two two-seat Rafales from the 4th Wing stationed at Air Base 113 at Saint-Dizier.
The tanker delivered delivered just over 12 tonnes of fuel to the two fighters during the 4.5 hour flight to Jordan. The two two-seater Rafale Bs returned to France a few days later, also escorted by the Phénix, which refueled them in flight.
The mission included testing of the recently received mission preparation system.
Under the 2019-2025 multi-year military spending bill, the French AF will ultimately be equipped with 15 A330 Phénix aircraft, 12 of which are scheduled to be operational by 2023.
The aircraft — whose primary mission is its role in French nuclear deterrence —previously participated in a long-range force projection demonstration in January.