Brazilian Air Force close to signing Airbus to convert its two A330-200s to MRTT tankers – report

Aircraft were sold by the holding company that owns Azul Linhas Aéreas and currently preserve the configuration for passenger transport

The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) is expected to sign a contract to convert its two A330-200 widebodies to the MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) standard for aerial refueling and transport by the end of the year, Flight Global revealed.

The outlet, whose source would be a military official involved in the negotiation, said that the Air Force should formalize the contract to convert the aircraft with Airbus in December. The aircraft modification process is carried out at the European group’s headquarters in Getafe, Spain.

The passenger jets were acquired by FAB in an agreement with the Azul SA, holding company that controls Azul Linhas Aéreas, and delivered in 2022, where they were designated as KC-30.

The long-range aircraft, which preserve passenger configuration, are used to transport military personnel and authorities throughout Brazil and abroad, including serving as presidential planes and on humanitarian missions.

Airbus A330 MRTT (Airbus)

The conversion of the FAB’s first A330-200 should begin in 2025 and the second in 2026. The return of the modified aircraft for military operations is scheduled for 2026 and 2027.

The KC-30s will be equipped with underwing refueling pods, which contain the hoses that extend to transfer fuel in flight to other aircraft.

The system is compatible with the receptacles of the Northrop F-5M and Saab F-39E Gripen fighters, as well as the FAB’s Embraer KC-390 Millennium. The planes can also be configured for aeromedical evacuation missions.

Brazilian Air Force KC-30 (FAB)

Auction with just one interested party

The Brazilian Air Force has been searching for a wide-body transport aircraft since returning a leased Boeing 767-300 in May 2019 after three in service.

The two A330-200s were acquired during Brigadier Baptista Junior’s tenure as Air Force Commander. The tender launched specified only the Airbus aircraft, ignoring other possible tankers such as the KC-46 or IAI’s conversion of the same Boeing 767.

The A330 MSN 1492 flew with Azul before being purchased by the Brazilian Air Force (Leonardo Mello via FAB)

Only Azul SA attended the auction, accepting the US$80.9 million offer made by FAB. The two A330s that flew for the carrier, however, did not belong to it at the time of the auction.

After being the only participant, Azul signed a contract with the government and then acquired the aircraft from lessors.

The agreement with Airbus Defense & Space does not require a tender as the conversion to the MRTT standard can only be carried out by the company itself.


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