Airbus has completed the certification flight tests for the A400M Cargo Hold Tanks (CHT) refuelling unit in partnership with the Spanish Air Force Test Centre (CLAEX).
The latest development takes the company closer to the full certification of the aircraft for air-to-air refuelling operations as a tanker.
As part of the certification, the aircraft performed a total of nine flights. It delivered 90t of fuel to Spanish Air Force F-18 receivers and to another A400M prototype as a representative heavy aircraft receiver.
Tests involved the development and certification of the CHT with the latest Fuel Quantity Management System software.
Other key aspects of the campaign included enhancement of the night refuelling vision system and preliminary testing of the aircraft’s helicopter air-to-air refuelling capabilities.
A400M is designed to be a dual-role transport and tanker aircraft, offering an air-to-air (AAR) refuelling capability, as well as performing the duties of a logistic and tactical airlifter.
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It has a basic fuel capacity of 63,500l, with an option for further expansion with additional CHTs.
The aircraft has the ability to refuel the entire range of probe-equipped military aircraft at their preferred speeds and altitudes.
Equipped with four EuroProp International (EPI) TP 400 turboprops, A400M has the ability to fly at the low speeds and altitudes to refuel slow receivers.
It can also fly at higher speeds of more than 300k and altitudes of approximately 25,000ft to refuel fast jets.