The British Royal Air Force (RAF) has performed the aerial refuelling of an RAF Atlas C1 (A400M) transport aircraft with a Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker.

This is the first time that an RAF Atlas aircraft was refuelled mid-air in the UK.

The milestone was achieved during the recent trials conducted by the RAF Brize Norton based 206 Squadron.

RAF 206 Squadron commanding officer Wing Commander Woolven said: “Our test pilots have conducted previous flight test campaigns; however, this is the first with this platform in the UK.

“The A400M is unique, thanks to its fly-by-wire flight control system.  This makes it much easier to maintain formation to make contact and take fuel.  This trial has given us the capability to hand over to front line instructors by the end of the year, which will enable them to roll out to the remaining A400M Squadrons, 24, 30, and 70 Squadrons at RAF Brize Norton.”

RAF Atlas transport aircraft provides tactical airlift capabilities to the armed forces. The aircraft is capable of carrying a 37t payload across 2,000nm.

Recently, Atlas and dual role transport and tanker Voyager were used for evacuating civilians from Afghanistan.

RAF 206 Squadron flight test engineer Flight Lieutenant Crow said: “This is the very first air-to-air refuelling on this platform in the UK. We have undertaken simulation training to make sure we were familiar with how the aircraft would perform. Air-air refuelling enables the aircraft to reach further, fly for longer and lift more weight around the world more effectively.”

Earlier this year, RAF Typhoons completed a tactical refuelling exercise in Norway.