RMAF A400Ms and AAR

A close up of the A400M nose. Note the Thales EVS. Two more A400Ms will be delivered this year.

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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About Marhalim Abas 1187 Articles
Shah Alam

3 Comments

  1. If i’m not wrong they still have problem refuelling helicopters. Don’t remember where i read it though. Is it true?

    And two of these dedicated tankers will also perform their transport role or like only for aar?

    Reply
    Airbus will have a solution for the helicopter AAR by next year. Our Cougars are still not fitted for AAR.
    If the A400M is fitted for the cargo hold fuel tank it is unlikely it can transport things but since this is a roll on roll off feature, it can be used for transport for the next mission.

  2. Thanks, so 2 of our a400m will be used like the usmc kc-130j alternating as both tactical airlifter and tanker.

    Are all of our charlies still able to fly for a long time? If im not wrong 5 of our charlies are from mid 90s, the c-130h-30. But the others is before mid 80s.

    Reply
    Yes though the US Marines more likely to fly them as tankers more regularly than RMAF. The Hercules should be able to fly Beyond 2030

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