This is the first year that Spain participates to the EART exercise. For two weeks a Spanish A400M and its crew is training AAR scenarios with multinational counterparts and under the direction of EATC. EART 2021 will offer them opportunities to test the integration of the A400M in a flow of tankers. The EATC experts will support them and investigate new dedicated A400M training opportunities in the AAR domain.
This is also the first time that a A400M participates in EART. The A400M is not a strategic tanker like the A330MRTT or KC767. Some nations though use it as a tanker to refuel their fighters in operations. This is the case for instance for Spain or France and Germany.
Currently Spain operates eleven A400Ms of which five AAR capable and may be equipped with seven sets of PODs and one HDU (Hose Drum Unit). The HDU and CHT configuration will be certified in 2022 by the Spanish Air Testing Center (CLAEX - Centro Logístico de Armamento y Experimentación). The Spanish A400M fleet has flown up to now more than 4,700 hours, whereas 6% are AAR training missions.
Ultimately, in 2023, the Spanish fleet will comprise fourteen A400Ms. Spain plans also to increase the number of AAR capable A400M assets to nine. The current plan is to procure a total of nine sets of PODs, three HDUs, and six CHT (Cargo Hold Tank). This will offer a high increase in AAR capability and performance to the Spanish Air Force, in comparision to the old AAR fleet.
Watch a nice video of the A400M during EART 2021