The Airbus A400M airlifter has successfully demonstrated simultaneous air-to-air refueling (AAR) of two F/A-18 fighters. Over the course of four flights, the A400M performed 74 contacts and dispensed 27.2 metric tons of fuel to the Spanish Air Force fighters. Refueling was conducted at altitudes of 20,000ft up to 33,000ft, and airspeeds of 180kts to 300kts, the preferred refueling envelope for fighters.
The A400M has a basic fuel capacity of 50.8 metric tons, which can be increased by the use of the cargo hold. The standard A400M has full provisions for AAR operations already installed and just requires an installation of the optional AAR kit to become a tanker. Designed from the outset to be a dual-role transport and tanker aircraft, the A400M provides air forces with a way to acquire an AAR capability in addition to a versatile logistic and tactical airlifter.
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