The A400M has already carried out several flight refuelling tests in the past. The military airlifter from Airbus Defence and Space has most notably refuelled a F/A-18 Hornet belonging to the Spanish Air Force, and a British RAF A330 MRTT. But it’s the first time that an A400M has been refuelled by another.
A few days ago, two flights set off from Seville in southern Spain. They performed more than fifty contacts in level flight and turns using the centreline hose and drum unit (HDU), capable of delivering 2,000 litres of kerosene a minute. It’s a system which enables the refuelling of larger aircraft, such as Lockheed’s C-130 Hercules. In addition to this refuelling point, the A400M also benefits from two additional ones on its underwing pods.
The refuelling system is proposed as an option on the A400M. The aircraft has a basic fuel capacity of 63,500 litres, but can be increased with two extra cargo hold tanks carrying 7,200 litres each. To carry out night-time refuelling as well as during the day, the military plane can be equipped with three cameras controlled by the co-pilot from the cockpit.