France has taken delivery of its first Airbus Defence & Space A400M equipped with underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods, edging its air force closer to introducing a new tactical tanker capability.

Handed over to the nation's DGA defence procurement agency on 22 November and subsequently flown to Orléans-Bricy air base, MSN62 is the 12th Atlas from France's eventual 50-strong fleet of the type.

France A400M tanker - DGA


The DGA describes the pod-equipped transport as capable of refuelling fighters in flight. "Other aircraft in the fleet will be progressively equipped with this capability during retrofit campaigns," it adds.

The French air force will have received 15 A400Ms by 2019, according to the DGA.

Paris also is acquiring four Lockheed Martin C-130Js, including two tankers capable of refuelling its Airbus Helicopters H225Ms. Its first new-generation Hercules transport completed a first flight from Lockheed's Marietta facility in Georgia in late November.