RMAF A400Ms and AAR

SHAH ALAM: IN my previous posts on RMAF A400Ms I stated that they will not be equipped for air-to-air refueling (AAR). This was based on information provided by a source. The source however has come back to me to state that the information was wrong.

Indeed RMAF A400Ms will be capable of performing AAR. They just need the under-wing refueling pods, certification and training.

An A400M conducting refueling for an F/A-18. Airbus DS picture.
An A400M conducting refueling for an F/A-18. Airbus DS picture.

As for the under wing refueling pods, I was told that RMAF has ordered four sets. Therefore, all of the four Atlas can perform AAR when the aircraft and crew are certified  for the mission.

In addition, RMAF has also ordered two sets of cargo hold fuel tanks which can be fitted to two A400Ms at any one time.

M54-03 landing at Subang on Aug 8, 2016.
M54-03 landing at Subang on Aug 8, 2016.

The A400Ms fitted with the cargo hold fuel tank will be a dedicated tanker aircraft and likely  be able to refuel more fighters. 

This is a  roll-on and roll-off feature so the aircraft could be rapidly configured as an airlifter after it concluded the AAR mission. 

Even without the cargo hold fuel tank, the 4 A400Ms can can still perform AAR with the refueling pods. 

However, the amount of fuel, they can off load will be lesser if compared to when they are fitted with the cargo hold fuel tank.

M54-02 in its hangar.
M54-02 in its hangar.

It must be noted however only a tactical configured A400M will be able to perform AAR as mentioned previously.

 A refueling pod on a RMAF Hercules.
A refueling pod on a RMAF Hercules.

So it will be RMAF’s fourth A400M – to be delivered in January – that will be the first to have the capability to perform AAR. It is likely that the AAR will be part of its flight trials prior to its delivery from Airbus.

M54-01 taxing to the 22nd Squadron hangar after conducting a ride for the media organised by the Defence Minister back in January.
M54-01 taxying to the 22nd Squadron hangar after conducting a ride for the media organised by the Defence Minister back in January.

As for the other three, the AAR capability will be part of the retrofit package to be undertaken on them in the near future, also mentioned previously.

Anyhow, the RMAF A400Ms are expected to be part of the fly-past for the up-coming Merdeka parade. Last year, only one took part. Perhaps this time around all three will take part.

— Malaysian Defence

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