RAF A400M is air-to-air refuelled for the first time

An RAF Airbus A400M Atlas C1, serial ZM406, has been refuelled whilst airborne for the first time. This milestone was achieved during recent trials conducted by 206 Squadron. The unit is the UK military's heavy aircraft test and evaluation squadron, stationed at RAF Brize Norton, Oxfordshire.

RAF A400M Atlas C1, ZM406 flies in formation with RAF Voyager KC3 prior to its first air-to-air refuelling. RAF Photo 

Wing Commander Woolven, Officer Commanding 206 Squadron 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."

A Multi Engine Mission Systems Operator (MSO) conducts air-to-air refuelling from the Voyager KC3. RAF photo

The A400M Atlas C1 received fuel from an RAF Voyager KC3, which is the model variant of the Voyager tanker equipped with an additional centreline hose for refuelling heavy aircraft.  

Flight Lieutenant Crow, a Flight Test Engineer of 206 Squadron added: "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."

An RAF A400M connects with a RAF Voyager KC3 for the first time. RAF photo