French defence procurement and technology agency Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) and Airbus have conducted in-flight refuelling tests.
The test involved the transfer of fuel between Airbus’ military transport aircraft A400M and a Caracal helicopter.
It was the first ‘wet’ air-to-air refuelling, involving the aircraft and the helicopter. Previously, only ‘dry’ in-flight contact tests were carried out to assess the feasibility and aerodynamic behaviour of the aircraft.
In a Twitter post, Airbus confirmed successful in-flight refuelling tests and added that the A400M and Caracal were operated by a mixed DGA and Airbus crews.
Launched in 2003, Airbus A400M Atlas was designed to meet the combined requirements of seven European Nations regrouped within OCCAR (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Spain, Turkey and the UK).
The aircraft is designed to carry strategic loads to tactical locations. It can land on frontline airbases, grass and / or sand strips, as well as deliver paratroopers or pallets by airdrop.
A400M has a range of 8,900km and can carry heavy payloads of up to 37t.
The aircraft is assembled in Spain, while the wings and the fuselage are built in the UK and Germany respectively.
The French and Turkish Air Forces have used the aircraft for operations in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, African Sahel Region, Mali and in the Middle East.
Earlier this month, the first Airbus A400M Atlas for Belgian Air Force conducted maiden test flight at an Airbus Defence facility in Seville, Spain.