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The French army will acquire 14 Airbus A330 MRTT

(credit: Airbus Military)

(BRUSSELS2) It was during a visit to the very factory where they are produced that the French Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, announced the purchase of 14 Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport). "I met my Spanish counterpart (Pedro Morenes) as a partner and I came here as a client" did he declare. These long-haul airliners modified into a refueling aircraft by Airbus are capable of supplying two planes simultaneously, but can also contain, in addition to a hundred tonnes of fuel, 37 tonnes of equipment and up to 270 passengers at a time. times, hence its multi-role designation.

A good investment

With the current austere times, the minister made it clear that the payment will be spread over several years and that it was a “command cyclewhich will begin in 2013. The Minister, like the other ministries, surely wishes to convey a message to investors. Austerity measures must be accompanied by long-term investment and economic efficiency. France's military transport fleet is expensive to maintain. Currently made up of 14 Boeing aircraft, 11 re-engined C-135FR Stratotankers and 3 KC-135Rs, some are approaching 50 years of service.

We are filling a gap

Operation Unified Protector in Libya had pointed out European shortcomings in terms of in-flight refueling. 80% of these were carried out by the Americans, since neither Germany, nor France, nor the Netherlands have the necessary capabilities today. Shortcomings confirmed by the words of Markus Bentler, the commander-in-chief of EU military operations. Having declared that the “transport” aspect of a global European operation – as represented by the European exercise Multilayer 2012 – could not be carried out by the sole means of European armies and that they would have to call on NATO and commercial contracts.

The United Kingdom, Australia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also placed orders with Airbus and India could do the same in the coming months.

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