Airbus Defence and Space has successfully demonstrated the air-to-air refuelling capability of the Airbus C295W medium-lift transport aircraft in airborne tanker configuration. The flight took place on 29th September.
The C295W, equipped with a palletized air-to-air refuelling unit and associated computer control system, conducted multiple contacts with a standard Spanish Air Force C295 in a test flight on 29 September. Hose deployment had already been tested on earlier solo flights of the tanker aircraft.
Both crews reported extremely smooth operation at various speeds as low as 110kt.
The system is intended primarily for refuelling helicopters, as well as turboprop aircraft and eventually unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The 7t palletized kit comprises a hose that can be deployed from the aircraft’s rear ramp and an optional auxiliary tank. Fuel can also be drawn from the main tanks.
Possible applications include special operations and extending the range of search and rescue aircraft.
The airborne tanker is one of the multiple variants of the C295W — the version launched in 2013 with winglets and enhanced engines. Other potential missions include airborne early warning, maritime patrol, border surveillance and firefighting.