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Airbus completes flight-test campaign for A400M improved firefighting prototype kit.

| 2023

Airbus Defence and Space recently completed a fresh flight-test campaign for the A400M Roll-on/Roll-off firefighting prototype kit, demonstrating its capability to drop 20,000 liters of retardant and create highly concentrated lines spanning over 400 meters on the ground.

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Airbus completes flight test campaign for A400M improved firefighting prototype kit The current prototype design is capable of releasing 20,000 liters of liquid in a single discharge (Picture source: Airbus Defence and Space)

Over two weeks, the A400M conducted a comprehensive ground and flight test campaign in southwestern and central Spain, featuring a total of six drops. These drops included three employing red-colored retardant and three utilizing water.

Jean-Brice Dumont, Head of Military Air Systems at Airbus Defence and Space, commented: "We have evaluated an improved version of the kit that enhances dropping efficiency and reduces discharge time by more than 30% compared to last year. This, combined with its rapid deployment and effortless installation on the A400M aircraft, underscores our commitment to pioneering new solutions and capabilities for our A400M fleet, particularly in the realm of safeguarding populations and natural environments from wildfires."

One of the standout features of this roll-on/roll-off kit is its seamless compatibility with the A400M fleet, requiring no modifications to the aircraft. It can be effortlessly transferred to any A400M aircraft. The water or retardant is securely stored in a tank within the aircraft's cargo hold. By utilizing a mechanical lever, a door can be opened to allow the liquid to flow out of the aircraft under the force of gravity through a discharge pipe. The current prototype design is capable of releasing 20,000 liters of liquid in a single discharge.

Filling the tanks is a swift process, taking less than 10 minutes through the use of standard high-pressure ground pumps. The A400M's exceptional ability to operate from short and unpaved runways, as well as a wide range of air bases and airfields, further enhances its utility.

Throughout the campaign, the 43rd Firefighting Squadron of the Spanish Air Force provided invaluable technical guidance, confirming that this A400M capability holds operational value for potential operators.

In a significant milestone in July 2022, Airbus successfully tested a removable firefighting demonstrator kit on the A400M for the first time. This endeavor highlighted the unique advantages of the A400M firefighting kit, which include its substantial dropping capacity, excellent maneuverability adhering to the latest safety standards, day and night operational capabilities, and the potential to swiftly convert any standard A400M in any fleet into a highly effective firefighting aircraft.

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