German A400M Atlas Deployed For The First Time As Tanker to Support Air War on Daesh

An A-400M departs Wunstorf Air Base for the deployment flight to Jordan. (Photo: Bundeswehr)

The A400M will replace the A310 tanker already deployed in German Operation “Counter Daesh”.

On July 5, 2019, for the first time, the German Air Force deployed an Airbus A400M four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft in tanker configuration to Jordan in support of Operation “Counter Daesh” (as the German intervention against ISIL in Syria and Iraq is codenamed). The aircraft, belonging to Lufttransportgeschwaders 62 (LTG) and based in Wunstorf, is set to replace the Airbus A310 operating out of Muwaffaq Salti Air Base in Jordan, where four Tornado IDS in Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) role are also deployed. Since the beginning of the operation, the A310 refueled more than 5,500 German and allied jets.

Germany is the first nation to use operationally the A400M as a tanker, while France is conducting tests to certify its refueling capability with Rafale, Mirage 2000 and helicopters. During an Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) mission, the A400M can simultaneously refuel two aircraft using underwing refueling pods, like the ones used by the KC-130, or it can use a fuselage refueling unit. Using auxiliary tanks installed in the cargo hold, the aircraft can deliver around 40 tonnes of kerosene, refueling up to ten receivers in one hour.

Overflight of an A400M with simulated refueling of a Eurofighter and Tornado over Wunstorf Air Base. (Photo: Bundeswehr)

Since August 2018, the A400M is performing MEDEVAC (MEDical EVACuation) missions in addition to passenger and material transport, the latter flown operationally for the first time in July 2018.

The new air-to-air refueling capability has been defined “a giant leap forward” by the Luftwaffe Inspector General, Lieutenant-General Ingo Gerhartz, who stated that the A-400M will be deployed “initially as a trial for the next few weeks to gain valuable experience.”

About Stefano D'Urso
Stefano D'Urso is a freelance journalist and contributor to TheAviationist based in Lecce, Italy. A graduate in Industral Engineering he's also studying to achieve a Master Degree in Aerospace Engineering. Electronic Warfare, Loitering Munitions and OSINT techniques applied to the world of military operations and current conflicts are among his areas of expertise.