3 Former Iberia Airbus A330s Set To Go To Spanish Ministry Of Defence

The Spanish Ministry of Defence has acquired three Iberia Airbus A330s for conversion to an MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport). While the deal was struck in July, the details of the aircraft were unknown this week, when Airbus confirmed the conversion.

Iberia A330-200
The government is purchasing the three A330-200s from Iberia for the military project. Photo: Iberia

€675 Million Conversion According to Aviacionline, Airbus has confirmed details about a deal made with the Spanish government in July after its signing this week. The agreement will see three Iberia A330-200s purchased by the Ministry of Defence and handed over to the European planemaker for conversion to military use.

The three Airbus A330 MRTT (Multi-Role Tanker Transport) will be used by the Spanish Air Force and will cost €675 million ($768.5mn). While there is a military need as well, the deal was struck by Spain to help Airbus cope with the huge losses it saw during COVID-19. The three military deals will ensure Airbus will keep on skilled workers and boost aviation.

A330_MRTT
The MRTT variant of the A330 is capable of providing mid-air refueling to fighter jets and transporting cargo. Photo: Airbus

The process of converting all three jets will take until 2025. The first A330 will arrive as transport aircraft later this year and will be fully converted by 2024. The other two A330 MRTTs will come in 2023 and 2025.

The first plane has been allocated

The first aircraft to take to the skies as a Spanish air force jet will be EC-MIL, a former Iberia A330-200. The aircraft was formally retired last month and is now in Getafe, Spain, undergoing its conversion to a military transporter. The coming years will see two more planes exit the flag carrier’s fleet, bringing the A330 presence down to 24 aircraft.

The A330 MRTT will enable important military operations for the Air Force 45 Wing in Madrid. The aircraft offered mid-air refueling for two fighter jets and an onboard MEDEVAC kit for any emergencies.

A330 MRTT
Pilot training won’t be an issue for the Air Force given that the A330 MRTT simulator is located in Seville. Photo: Airbus

Spain is hardly the first customer for this advanced military aircraft. Airbus has clocked 50 deliveries of the A330 MRTT to 13 customers globally, including NATO, Singapore, the UAE, and many more. This has brought the type to 250,000 flight hours and currently has 11 more pending orders.

In a statement about the agreement, Executive Vice President Military Aircraft at Airbus, Jean-Brice Dumont, said,

“With the addition of A330 MRTT to its fleet, the Spanish Air Force acquires a key and proven new capability, that will enhance and support overseas operations, as well as medevac missions, on which the aircraft played a key role during the Covid-19 pandemic crisis worldwide.”

Iberia’s A330s live on!

Military conversions are one of two ways retired commercial jets live on. While Iberia’s retiring planes are pretty young (the oldest in the fleet is under six years), older A330s could find use as MRTT or converted freighters in the future. Given the impact of COVID-19 on aviation, the Spanish government’s deal supports both Iberia and Airbus while ensuring local employees keep their jobs.

What do you think about the Spanish government’s order? Let us know in the comments!

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