The Algerian Air Force is looking to buy between four and six Airbus Military A330 Multi-Role Tanker Transports (MRTTs), Airbus has confirmed.
Rafael Tentor, head of light and medium aircraft at Airbus Military, told defenceWeb that Algeria was “very much interested” in the MRTT. Following a request from the Algerian Air Force, Airbus sent a Royal Air Force MRTT to the North African country at the beginning of May for evaluation.
This was seen at the Algerian Air Force’s main transport base of Boufarik near the capital Algiers. The aircraft that landed featured two refuelling pods mounted on the wingtips.
Tentor told defenceWeb that the MRTT conducted aerial refuelling tests with the Air Force’s Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets
He said that the Algerian Air Force is seeking to buy between four and six MRTTs to replace its existing fleet of Ilyushin Il-78 Midas tankers. Tentor was optimistic that Airbus Military would have an Algerian campaign by the end of this year.
Other African nations that may be interested in MRTTs are Egypt and South Africa, according to Tentor. South Africa could use the MRTT for externally deploying its fighters, and as the aircraft can be configured for VIP duties, it could also fulfil the government’s current requirement for a new VIP transport.
Funding has been made available for a VIP jet purchase this financial year. However, Airbus has not offered the MRTT to South Africa yet, according to the company, but is talking to the government about its C295 light transport.
The A330 MRTT is based on the commercial A330-200 passenger jet and is able to carry 111 tonnes of fuel in its wings, leaving the fuselage free for other payloads. It can be used as a pure transport aircraft able to carry up to 300 troops, or can carry 45 tonnes of cargo. The MRTT can also be converted to accommodate up to 130 stretchers for Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) missions.
The MRTT has been ordered by the United Kingdom (14), Australia (5), United Arab Emirates (3) and Saudi Arabia (6). The MRTT has also been selected by India and is the preferred choice of the French Air Force. India is expected to sign a deal shortly.
The MRTT has experienced two refuelling boom failures in flight, something Airbus said was due to operator error. The company said that modifications have been made to ensure no accidents occur again.
Guy Martin is attending Airbus Military’s annual Trade Media Briefing at the company’s invitation.