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A400M validates tanker role; refuels two F/A-18 fighters simultaneously

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The A400M conducting simultaneous air-to-air refuelling of two F/A-18 fighters. An Airbus Group photo

SEVILLE, SPAIN (BNS): Further validating its capability as a tanker, the European Airbus A400M heavy-lift strategic airlifter has conducted aerial refuelling for two F/A-18 fighters simultaneously.

In the course of four flights, the military transport aircraft performed 74 contacts and dispensed 27.2 tonnes of fuel to the two Spanish Air Force fighters.

Refuelling was conducted at altitudes of 20,000ft - 33,000ft, and airspeeds of 180kt - 300kt -- the preferred refuelling envelope for the fighters, Airbus Group announced on Feb. 18.

With a basic fuel capacity of 50.8 tonnes which can be increased by the use of extra cargo hold tanks, the A400M is the most capable tactical tanker in the market, according to the aircraft manufacturer.

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.

According to the company, the new generation airlifter is designed from the outset to be a dual-role transport and tanker aircraft, providing air forces with a cost-effective way to acquire an air-to-air refuelling capability in addition to a versatile logistic and tactical airlifter.

The aircraft has already demonstrated its air-to-air refuelling capability during a previous test flight conducted in August 2014.


A400M  Tanker  Airlifter  Airbus  Defence  F-18  
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