Airbus Defence and Space's A330 Multi-role Tanker Transport (MRTT) has enjoyed notable success in recent times. The orderbook now stands at 60 aircraft, of which 35 have been delivered. The worldwide fleet has now amassed more than 125,000 flight hours. In the Gulf region, the type is flown by the Royal Saudi Air Force (six) and the UAE Air Force and Air Defence (three).
In the past year, three more operators joined the A330 MRTT ranks, the latest of which was South Korea, which received the first of its four aircraft at the end of January. On 1 September the Republic of Singapore Air Force's first aircraft from an order for six took part in the service's 50th anniversary parade having been delivered days before.
France began operations with the A330 MRTT - named Phénix in Armée de l'air service - in October, having ordered three more to bring its current acquisition to 12. In mid-January, the Phénix undertook its first long-range overseas operation, including in-flight refuelling of Rafale fighters. The aircraft flew to the French outpost on Réunion island in the southern Indian Ocean, calling at the French detachment in Djibouti on the outbound journey, but returning to France non-stop.
In March, Airbus Defence and Space (Stand 08-B05) received an order for an eighth aircraft for the NATO Multinational MRTT Fleet (MMF) when Belgium joined the group. MMF was initiated by Luxembourg and the Netherlands with two aircraft, and was swelled in late 2017 when Germany and Norway joined, bringing with them an order for five more aircraft.
Airbus signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin in December to jointly pursue tanker opportunities in the US market, including contractorised provision of tanking capability on a service provision basis.