The interesting video in this post shows the A400M ability to deliver fuel to six F/A-18s in a single mission during a recent air-to-air refueling (AAR) human factors certification flight on Dec. 13, 2017.
Configured with two underwing pods and a centre hose refuelling unit (HDU), Airbus said a total of 11.4 tonnes of fuel was transferred. Although only six fighter jets were involved, the mission simulated the refueling of eight aircraft via multiple contacts.
Noteworthy the sortie featured a complex series of AAR scenarios such as changes of area, receivers with unknown priorities, and unexpected increases in numbers of receivers.
The F-18s included the first Spanish operational fighters to be refuelled by the A400M and belonged to the Spanish Air Force Test Centre (CLAEX) and the 12th Operational Wing based at Torrejón.
Certification authorities on board confirmed good results and the flight validated the A400M two-crew cockpit concept for tanker missions.
The A400M is the only tactical tanker that features a third refueling point (in the form of the HDU), in addition to its underwing pods, allowing refueling of large receivers such as another A400M or C-130.
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.
Photo credit: Spanish Air Force
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