A400M: Tasty Tanker

Contact! A Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet connects with the Airbus A400M. The A400M(Image © Alexandre Doumenjou / Airbus)
Contact! A Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet connects with the Airbus A400M. The A400M(Image © Alexandre Doumenjou / Airbus)

The Airbus A400M airlifter succesfully proved it is also a reliable Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR) platform, Airbus Defence and Space said on Friday 29 August. The tanker test campaign was developed in five flights in which the A400M performed 33 dry contacts and dispensed 18.6 tonnes of fuel to a Spanish Air Force F/A-18 Hornet in 35 wet contacts.

The A400M has a basic fuel capacity of 50.8 tonnes, which can be increased by the use of extra cargo hold tanks. In comparison, the Airbus Multi Role Tanker Transport aircraft has a basic fuel capacity of 111 tonnes. The future Boeing KC-46 will be able to hold about 100 tonnes of fuel.

The standard A400M aircraft has full provisions for AAR operations already installed as standard and only requires the rapid installation of the optional air-to-air refuelling kit to become a tanker. Designed from the outset to be a dual-role transport and tanker aircraft, the A400M provides air forces with a cost-effective way to acquire an air-to-air refuelling capability in addition to a versatile logistic and tactical airlifter.

Source: Airbus Defence and Space, with additional reporting by Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest