Military Aviation

As A400M cargo plane demonstrates the ability to refuel another A400M, Airbus is (almost) ready to fix the aircraft problems in performing helicopter air-to-air refueling

The A400M is the only tactical tanker that features a third refueling point in addition to its underwing pods

The following video, released by Airbus on Nov. 14, 2016, shows Airbus A400M airlifter demonstrating the ability of the type to refuel another A400M using the centreline hose and drum unit (HDU). The two aircraft involved in the test performed more than 50 contacts in level flight and turns during two flights conducted from Seville, Spain.

The A400M is the only tactical tanker that features a third refueling point (in the form of HDU), in addition to its underwing pods, allowing refueling of large receivers such as another A400M or C-130.

Noteworthy the standard A400M aircraft has full provisions for air-to-air refueling (AAR) operations already installed and only requires the rapid installation of the optional air-to-air refueling kit to become a tanker.

Nevertheless the cargo aircraft still lacks Helicopter Air-to-Air Refueling (HAAR) capability: in fact the 80ft  (24m) hose takes the helicopter too close to the A400, in an area of considerable air turbulence. However this issue brought ADS to develop a 120ft (36m) hose that proved stable enough to keep the helicopter further away from the A400M. If this new system works the A400M restrictions in HAAR could finally be lifted and the aircraft capabilities as a tanker further expanded.

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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