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A400M demonstrates air-to-air helicopter refuelling capability

21st April 2021 - 15:30 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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Helicopter air-to-air refuelling at night with an A400M. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus now aims to complete full certification for helicopter air-to-air refuelling with its A400M by late 2021.

Airbus Defence and Space has completed most development and certification objectives for its A400M airlifter, after successfully conducting what it described as ‘a major helicopter air-to-air refuelling certification campaign’.

Flight tests, performed in coordination with French procurement agency DGA, involved operations in daytime and night conditions with two French Air and Space Force H225M helicopters.

The company aims to achieve full helicopter air-to-air refuelling certification later in 2021 with the conclusion of all mandatory night operation trials, it announced on 19 April.

Helicopter air-to-air refuelling is a unique military capability and it is particularly essential for SOF operations involving aircraft with different flight profiles and sharing a very limited common flight envelope, requiring close formation flying patterns at low altitudes and in nighttime conditions.  

‘With this capability, the A400M becomes one of the few tanker aircraft in the world capable of such operations,’ Airbus claimed.

It added that the H225M is one of the few helicopters in the world capable of in-flight refuelling, extending the standard 700nmi range by up to 10h flight time.

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