The Airbus A400M has successfully achieved its first helicopter air-to-air refuelling contacts with an H225M.
Over the course of four flights, operated in day conditions over the south of France, the A400M performed 51 dry contacts marking a decisive milestone towards its full capability as a tanker.
These tests were performed under the coordination of the French DGA Essais en vol flight test centre.
An Airbus statement said: “The tests, involving no fuel and performed between 1,000ft and 10,000ft at flight speeds as low as 105kts, confirmed the positive results of previous proximity flights conducted at the beginning of 2019. The next step in the flight test program will involve wet contact operations scheduled to take place before the end of 2019 ahead of final certification in 2021.”
The flight test campaign also included the first proximity trials between the A400M and an H160 helicopter requested by the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) as part of the Guépard programme to develop future military multirole helicopter for the French armed forces. Tests were performed successfully.
The A400M is certified to be quickly configured as a tanker. It carries up to 50,800kg (111,600lb) of fuel in its wings and centre wing box, without compromising any cargo hold area. Two additional cargo hold tanks can also be installed, providing an additional 5,700kg (11,400lb) of fuel each. The fuel carried in the extra tanks can be of a different nature to the fuel in the main tanks. This enables the A400M to cater for the needs of different types of receiver aircraft.