PICTURES: A400M starts tanker trials with RAF VC10

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Airbus Military's A400M development aircraft "Grizzly 1" has begun in-flight refuelling receiver trials behind a Vickers VC10 tanker flown by the UK Royal Air Force.

The new test campaign started at Toulouse, France on 15 February, when MSN1 "performed a series of dry contacts with the VC10's fuselage-mounted hose drum unit", says Airbus.

Plans to perform the receiver trials with a VC10 were outlined by the company late last year, when it said aircraft MSN1 would perform dry contacts only over a period of seven to 10 days. However, the current work is now scheduled to conclude late this week.

 
© Airbus Military

© A Doumenjou/Airbus Military

Information gathered during this process will inform more detailed work to be conducted later this year using development aircraft "Grizzly 4".

Airbus also recently deployed the second of its current four development aircraft to Kiruna in Sweden to undergo cold weather trials as part of the A400M's test campaign.

The UK plans to retire the last of its VC10s in 2013, with the aged type to be replaced by an eventual fleet of 14 Airbus A330-200-based Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft. The first of these should be delivered to RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire, late this year.

The RAF's remaining 13 VC10s were delivered to the service between 1966 and 1970, says Flightglobal's MiliCAS database. The aircraft involved in the current trials is K3-standard tanker ZA149.