The Airbus A400M Atlas is proving to be an excellent military tactical transport and aerial refueling aircraft.
The possibility of expanding these missions is getting closer. These last two weeks, Airbus has been testing in Spain its A400M Firefighter Demo Kit Mk2, a prototype Roll-on/Roll-off firefighting equipment that allows the A400M already in operation to be converted into aircraft. fire extinguishing, both with water and retardant.
These tests have been carried out with an A400M-180 owned by Airbus, the EC-406 (A4M006), operated by EADS CASA and based at the European aeronautical company's facilities in Seville. The tests have been carried out at the Uceda (Guadalajara) Maneuver and Shooting Range (CMT), property of the Spanish Ministry of Defense and regularly used by the VI "Almogávares" Brigade of Paratroopers (BRIPAC) of the Spanish Army. The A400M took off from the Torrejón Air Base, in Madrid, where it traveled to carry out these tests.
The tests were carried out with the participation of personnel from the 43rd Air Force Group, a unit equipped with Canadair CL-215T and CL-415 firefighting seaplanes, as technical advisors. Airbus points out that the participation of this unit ensures that "this capability in the A400M has operational value for any potential operator."
The A400M Firefighter Demo Kit Mk2 is capable of dropping 20,000 liters in a single discharge, as demonstrated in tests in recent weeks, in which this equipment was used to its maximum capacity. In total, six launches were made, three with red retardant and three with water, creating highly concentrated lines more than 400 meters long on land.
The Mk1 version of this fire extinguishing equipment was tested for the first time by Airbus in July 2022. The equipment is mounted at the end of the plane's cargo hold and launching the liquid requires the rear ramp to be fully open, such as when the plane makes a cargo parachute drop.
Although these types of systems do not have a recharge as fast as that of Canadair seaplanes (which are capable of recharging water at sea, in estuaries, lakes and reservoirs without having to return to their base), Airbus notes that the tanks of its firefighting equipment can be filled in less than 10 minutes, using standard high-pressure pumps on the ground.
The difference in capacity between a seaplane is considerable: a CL-415 is capable of carrying 6,137 liters of water, compared to 20,000 for the Airbus system. The new fire extinguishing equipment tested by Airbus these last two weeks reduces charging time by 30% compared to the first version.
It should be noted that a CASA C-101 Aviojet from CLAEX (the Logistics Center for Armament and Experimentation of the Spanish Air Force, based in Torrejón de Ardoz, Madrid) accompanied the A400M in these tests, as we see in this image taken from one of the videos released by Airbus. The image was captured on November 29. Here you can see the video of these tests published today by Airbus:
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