Airbus Defence & Space is to test a solution to a refueling problem discovered last year that rendered it unable to refuel helicopters in flight.
During a previous testing with Airbus H225M helicopters using a standard, 24.4m (80ft)-long hose, the rotorcrafts’ proximity to airflow behind the A400M and the T-tail prevented air-to-air refueling being safely completed.
According to Airbus, windtunnel testing of possible solution has been conducted in Spain, with Onera. The modeled revealed using a hose-and-drogue design of 36.6m (120ft) was an acceptable solution.
Airbus will also test a stiffer, but narrower diameter hose design than used previously, the later criteria to allow the hose to still fit inside the Cobham pod for refueling. Slower fuel flow will be the result by testing will prove the impact on overall refueling time.
A flight test program is expected to include conducting proximity trials with an instrumented H225M before the end of this year.
The A400M’s can already refuel fixed wing aircraft, but its inability to handle helicopters lead the French air force to order two Lockheed Martin KC-130J tankers to support its H225M Caracal fleet.
June 24, 2016