Airbus Defence and Space has successfully completed air-to-air refuelling between two A400M Atlas military transport aircraft.

During the air-to-air refuelling mission, the two A400Ms made more than 50 contacts in level flight and turns using the centreline hose and drum unit (HDU).

The A400M is the only tactical tanker on the market with a third refuelling point, in addition to its underwing pods.

Its basic fuel capacity of 63,500l can be increased with two extra cargo hold tanks carrying 7,200l each, Airbus said in a statement.

The aircraft can refuel from the HDU at a rate of 2,000l per minute.

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Airbus has launched the A400M in May 2003 to cater to the combined needs of seven European Nations regrouped within OCCAR which include Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and the UK.

"The aircraft can be equipped with three cameras to monitor day and night air-to-air refuelling operations."

The aircraft can be equipped with three cameras to monitor day and night air-to-air refuelling operations.

With a maximum payload of up to 37t, the A400M can carry numerous pieces of outsize cargo including, vehicles and helicopters that are too large or too heavy for previous generation tactical airlifters.

It can also carry a heavy logistic truck, or a rescue boat, or large lifting devices, such as excavators or mobile cranes needed to assist in disaster relief, according to the company.

Image: The two A400Ms made more than 50 contacts during the air-to-air refuelling mission. Photo: © Airbus DS GmbH.