Feb 20, 2015
A400M performs successful air-to-air refuelling test with two Spanish F-18
The A400M new generation airlifter has further proved its credentials as a tanker by successfully demonstrating simultaneous air-to-air refuelling of two F/A-18 fighters. In the course of four flights, the A400M performed 74 contacts and dispensed 27.2 tonnes of fuel to the Spanish Air Force aircraft. Refuelling was conducted at altitudes of 20,000ft – 33,000ft, and airspeeds of 180kt – 300kt – the preferred refuelling envelope for fighters.
With a basic fuel capacity of 50.8 tonnes which can be increased by the use of extra cargo hold tanks. The standard A400M aircraft has full provisions for air-to-air refuelling (AAR) operations already installed and only requires the rapid installation of the optional air-to-air refuelling kit to become a tanker.
On a typical tanking mission where it would loiter for 2 hours at a range of 500 nm (930 km) from base, the A400M would have a potential “fuel give-away” of 34,000 kg (75,000 lb).