On July 22, 2020, the French Armaments Directorate (Direction générale de l’armement, DGA) and Airbus Helicopters carried out the first refueling test flight with fuel transfer between an A400M Atlas transport aircraft and a Caracal helicopter. The test campaign carried out from July 20 to 31, 2020 with an Airbus A400M and a H225M Caracal from the EH 1/67 “Pyrenees” helicopter squadron of Cazaux made available by the French Air Force, aimed to transfer fuel between the two aircraft in order to assess the flight envelope and refueling performance. This campaign will open up the operational capability for refueling by A400M, in addition to the Air Force’s KC-130J Hercules. The A400M is already certified for refueling fighter jets like the Rafale or transport aircraft like the C-130 or even another A400M.
The Airbus A400M Atlas is a European four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Military (now Airbus Defence and Space) as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. The A400M is between the C-130 and the Boeing C-17 in size; it can carry heavier loads than the C-130 and is able to use rough landing strips. Along with the transport role, the A400M can perform aerial refueling and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment. The first aircraft was delivered to the French Air Force in August 2013.
The Eurocopter EC725 Caracal, now called Airbus Helicopters H225M, is a long-range tactical transport military helicopter developed from the Eurocopter AS532 Cougar for military use. The EC725 was developed to meet a French Air Force requirement for a specialist helicopter for Combat Search and Rescue operations. It is a twin-engined aircraft and can carry up to 28 seated troops along with two crew, depending on customer configuration. The helicopter is marketed for troop transport, casualty evacuation, and combat search and rescue duties, and is similar to the civilian EC225. By 2015, the EC725, since re-designated as the H225M, was being manufactured on two separate production lines in France and Brazil.