Airbus Defence & Space has carried out two test flights at its facility in Seville, Spain, to evaluate the air-to-air refuelling capabilities of its A400M strategic transport.

During the flights, 50 contacts between the two A400Ms were made in both level flight and during turns, using a hose-and-drum add-on kit that enables the Atlas to refuel large aircraft.

The A400M is the only aircraft in its class with a third refuelling point in addition to its standard underwing pods, Airbus Defence & Space says.

Airbus Defence & Space

The transport has a baseline fuel capacity of 63,500 litres (16,700USgal) that can be increased with two extra cargo hold tanks each carrying 7,200 litres, Airbus says. It can pass fuel via the hose-and-drum system at a rate of 2,000 litres per minute.

“The technique would allow the A400M to carry a 20-tonne payload more than 6,000nm (11,000km) nonstop from Paris, France to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia,” Airbus says. “The standard A400M aircraft has full provisions for air-to-air refuelling operations already installed, and only requires the rapid installation of the optional air-to-air refuelling kit to become a tanker.”