Brazil Acquires Two A330s For MRTT Conversions

Brazilian Air Force Airbus A330 MRTT
Credit: Brazilian Air Force

The Brazilian Air Force (FAB) has acquired a pair of Airbus A330-200 airliners with the aim of converting them into multi-role tanker transport (MRTT) aircraft. 

The two ex-Azul Airlines aircraft were acquired for $80 million and now will be adapted for the air force’s so-called REVO mission, which includes inflight refueling, logistics support and aeromedical evacuation. 

According to the Brazilian defense ministry, negotiations to convert the two aircraft to the MRTT mission “will begin in the coming weeks,” with the aim of delivering the first MRTT-configured aircraft in 2024. 

The Air force signed contracts with Azul on April 18 after a tender to find aircraft to fit the REVO mission. The FAB said there has been a capability gap for the mission for nine years since the retirement of the Boeing KC-137, a converted 707 airliner. The first of the A330s is scheuled to be delivered to the air force in airline configuration in the next three months, and the second before year’s end. They will be assigned to a squadron based in Rio de Janeiro. 

Currently, the largest FAB aircraft is the Embraer KC-390 Millennium airlifter. Officials note the acquisition of the A330 MRTT, to be designated KC-30, along with the KC-390 will result in a “significant increase in operability.” 

The FAB had been operating a Boeing 767-300 under lease until 2019, but the aircraft was returned to its lessor, and the government announced plans to acquire A330s instead. 

“A strategic aircraft, loaded with about 110 tons of fuel, is a multiplier factor in the capabilities of any air force,” officials said. 

The FAB did not say whether its A330s will feature refueling booms, although an artist’s impression suggests they will be configured like the UK Royal Air Force’s fleet, with underwing hose-and-drogue units only. The Air Force does not operate any aircraft types that require boom refueling. 

Brazil is the first Latin American country to opt for the A330 MRTT and one of only a handful of nations globally that have selected second-hand A330s to be converted. Others are Australia, France and Spain. 

Airbus has not yet responded to requests for comment on the FAB acquisition.

Tony Osborne

Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.