Spanish Air Force Update on A400M


2018-01-06 The Spanish Air Force has received its second A400M as well as having recently refueled six Spanish Air Force F-18 fighters in a single mission as part of certification flight.

According to a Spanish Air Force article published on December 29, 2017, the Spanish Air Force has taken delivery of its second operational A400M.

The 31st Air Wing is based at Zaragoza Air Base located 16 kilometres (10 mi) west of Zaragoza, 270 km (168 mi) west of Barcelona, and 262 km (163 mi) northeast of Madrid.

“The new aircraft has the ability of in-flight refuelling through the installation of POD’s under the wings.

“It is expected that the third A400M will join the 31 Wing in April 2018 and by 2022 the A400Ms will have replaced the 10 C-130s currently operating at the base.”

And on December 21, 2017, a press release highlighted the certification test.

“An Airbus A400M has successfully refuelled six Spanish Air Force F-18 fighters in a single mission as part of an air-to-air refuelling (AAR) human factors certification flight.

“The 13 December mission featured a complex series of AAR scenarios such as changes of area, receivers with unknown priorities, and unexpected increases in numbers of receivers. Through multiple contacts the six aircraft simulated a fleet of eight.

“The F-18s included the first Spanish operational fighters to be refuelled by the A400M and belonged to the Spanish Air Force Test Centre (CLAEX) and the 12th Operational Wing based at Torrejón.

“A total of 11.4 tonnes of fuel was dispensed using both the underwing pods and the centre hose refuelling unit.

“Certification authorities on board confirmed good results and the flight validated the A400M two-crew cockpit concept for tanker mission.”

With regard to the Air Transport Wing 31:

The history of ATW 31 starts with the formation of Squadron 301 on 26 April 1973 at Zaragoza Air Base.

In September 1978, Squadron 301 was disbanded and ATW 31was established. It maintained name and location until today.

The wing comprises two squadrons: Transportation Squadron 311 and Air-to-Air Refuelling Squadron 312.

On 18 December 1973, the first C-130H “Hercules” aircraft from the United States arrived at Zaragoza Airbase; the fleet was completed with twelve aircraft which were delivered one after the other until early 1980. In January 1976, the first three AAR aircraft (KC 130H) were added, thus allowing the wing to expand its capabilities by conducting AAR-missions.

In the late 90´s, a modernization program was successfully conducted, aiming to actualize and upgrade the fleet in order to extend the service life of the aircraft. Under this program several aircraft systems were upgraded including the avionics- and navigational system, the radio system, self-protection suite, the fuel system and the system of the in-flight refueling pods as well as the digital autopilot.

Since its establishment, ATW 31 has carried out all kinds of AT missions, both life operations and exercises as well as humanitarian aid missions.

Those missions include operations in theatres such as Afghanistan and Iraq, support operations in disaster areas and regions of conflict, UN missions as well as operations to support the Red Cross and in the framework of international cooperation.

In 2014, the ATW 31 finished its operation in Afghanistan were it has had a permanent detachment for the last twelve years.

Since then, the wing has turned its principal focus of operation to Africa with detachments in Libreville (Gabon) and currently in Dakar (Senegal).

Air Transport Wing 31 accomplishes Strategic (international, mission theatre) Transport as well as Tactical Transport (within the mission theatre) all of which include the following types of activities:
–    Deployment of Air Force units
–    Air-to-Air Refuelling (AAR)
–    Air logistic support
–    Airborne operations
–    Unconventional warfare
–    Medical evacuation flights
–    SAR support
–    Humanitarian aid missions

The wing is equipped with C-130H, C-130 H30 and KC 130H “Hercules” aircraft – Spanish designation T.10/TK.10, which are commonly named as the “Dumbos” because of the elephants in the squadrons’ coat of arms; the unit’s motto is: “Whatever, wherever and whenever!”