Airbus has successfully tested a removable firefighting demonstrator kit on the A400M transport aircraft during a flight test campaign in Spain.

The firm say that the test campaign took place in daylight conditions with a minimum operating height of 150ft, flight speeds as low as 125 knots and drops involving up to 20 tonnes of water from the current tank in less than 10 seconds.

“The main objective of the campaign is to validate the drop water quantity and time as well as the ability of the A400M to carry out this new role with the kit.”

“The development of this firefighting kit is an intrinsic part of our journey towards helping to create a more sustainable and safer world, not only by our actions but also through our products. We strongly believe the A400M can play a vital role in the fight against the ever increasing threat posed by wildfires and support the restoration of social and environmental systems,” said Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space, in this news release.

According to a statement:

“The Airbus firefighting solution created for the A400M is a roll-on/roll-off (RORO) kit that requires no modification to the aircraft and therefore is interchangeable to any aircraft in the A400M fleet. The water is stored in a fixed tank in the cargo hold, and retained by two independent doors. These doors are connected to two flood pipes, so when the discharge is triggered, the water is expelled through two sections at the end of the ramp. The introduction of this RORO solution allows a rapid reaction to unforeseen fires and reconfiguration of the aircraft to any of its other roles.”

You can read more here.

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Martin
Martin
12 days ago

Now the RAF will be able to cover for striking fire brigade instead of army 😀

Bob
Bob
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin

Lol

Andy P
Andy P
12 days ago
Reply to  Martin

The army might drive the vehicles but its the navy that was putting the fires out. 😉

Airborne
Airborne
11 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Sorry Paul gonna have to argue that one! More Army were deployed as full crews, with the RN lads doing the BART team in a white transit following behind our swift and sleek Goddesses (who mostly couldn’t enter a burning building anyway as their team needed 2 x 2 person teams, but most had 1 x 2 person team and a driver and a controller for the board) But at least it gave the RN an opportunity to see real professionals at work 😂👍!

Airborne
Airborne
11 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Paul? FFS how we ever got to a shout is beyond me lol sorry Andy 🤪

Andy P
Andy P
11 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

😂 No worries mate, maybe a regional thing but up in sunny Scotland there were plenty matelots doing it.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
10 days ago
Reply to  Airborne

Transits! We had a sexy little Hilux!

Trevor Hogg
Trevor Hogg
11 days ago
Reply to  Martin

The RAF have always covered Stiking Fireman, along side the Army. It was a massive drain on us back in the rarly 2000s. I was at Kinloss, having to supply personnel to cover the Liverpool area

Bob
Bob
12 days ago

Given the inherent dangers associated with “water bombing” isn’t this an ideal application for a drone vehicle? Maybe the smaller helicopter variants first.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  Bob

It doesn’t appear to have a water scoop capability, thus allowing it to skim water into the tanks from a lake or sea, so it will have to land and refill every time so the tonnage of water delivered per hour won’t be spectacular…

Mind you I don’t think an A400M would be too useful with a scoop….

Maybe buying some specialist affrighting aircraft would be the way forwards?

Rudeboy
Rudeboy
12 days ago

There is a demountable kit available for C-130 as well. Personally I think we should buy 3 of these kits (2 operational and 1 spare). We’re having increasing numbers of moorland fires in the UK every year so the capability could be very useful. But it’s also a cheap and easy way of deploying some soft power, particularly to other European states. The demand on aerial firefighting aircraft has increased exponentially in recent years and will only increase as each year goes by. Pretty much every year we support the Cypriot government with the Bell 212 at Akrotiri carrying Bambi… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  Rudeboy

Might be another reason to keep C130J?

Supporting civil emergencies, at home and abroad, is a core military task.

farouk
farouk
12 days ago

Just watched the video and noticed the part where Airbus states that the kit is a roll on roll off bit of equipment that requires no modification to the plane. But thats a lot of spray and I do wonder how that would effect the plane over time.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  farouk

I wouldn’t have thought that clean fresh water would have much effect.

Trouble is not much is clean fresh water – tap water is chlorinated and therefore mildly corrosive to aluminium.

Lane water generally has high mineral concentration depending on what it has flowed over to get there and what the lane shores are.

And we all know sea water is a nightmare….

Andy Poulton
Andy Poulton
11 days ago

Turnaround might be faster than you think. Roll on, fly away and empty. Land back, roll off, roll on new full tank, Fly away – repeat

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
11 days ago
Reply to  Andy Poulton

Where do you fast deliver 20,000kg of water from?

Even with a standard 2.5” mains hydrant that would take an appreciable time?

You could pump into a couple of fire trucks and then replenish using their pumps if mains starvation was an issue.

I suspect you would need a plastic ground tank which was pre filled with the exact weight of water and then pumped across to the aircraft with some high capacity pumps.

Frank62
Frank62
10 days ago
Reply to  Andy Poulton

How about in flight water replenishment from tankers to refill the airbus?! Or cloud harvesting.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago

Next mod will be fill it with flammable liquid and it can be a fire bomber.

DRS
DRS
11 days ago

We definitely need a few of these kits. It would also make sense to get some proper fire planes that we have in stock that can then be also lent out as needed across Europe or further afield either rented out or as soft power projection.

Not everything needs to be provided by a company can be strategic UK stock. If need be we can go as per the Navy smaller port boats which are MOD owned but not necessarily MOD operated.

Louis
Louis
11 days ago

Many people have said this already but getting a few of these kits would be great for power projection and would also help the publication perception of the armed forces. COVID helped a lot with RAF planes transporting stuff from turkey and wherever, and personnel helping with testing and transporting via trucks within the UK. The biggest shame via public perception of the armed forces was getting rid of the army and navy SAR squadrons, which affected many people positively, it also means we don’t have proper CSAR or SAR for the carriers. As a side note the forces news… Read more »

Liam
Liam
11 days ago

Fun as this capability might be, it only makes sense in an emergency and the UK would probably be better served buying a couple of purpose built aircraft. That said it’s nice to see A400 maturing as a platform, I’d quite like to see the AAR pods fitted to some of the RAF aircraft as well as an increase in fleet size to around 45. Cutting C130 without the numbers to truly replace them, alongside the immense work rate of the C17, is a particularly silly idea considering the state of geopolitics.

Davalew
Davalew
11 days ago

Without scooping capability the A400 will be somewhat limited in this role.

Coll
Coll
9 days ago
Reply to  Davalew

It will be just as limited as the c-130 when it comes to firefighting.

David Lewis
David Lewis
9 days ago
Reply to  Coll

Yep, both somewhat limited 🙂

Julian
Julian
11 days ago

Looks like a great extra capability. I spend 5 months of the year in my second home in central Cape Town and every single summer there there are multiple days when I can smell smoke in the air and can sit on my balcony watching helicopters water-bomb fires on the mountains surrounding the city centre. If our UK heatwaves and droughts continue to get more frequent and more severe this is definitely something we need to consider. As I watch those helicopters from my balcony I marvel at the skill that I assume is involved. I can’t fly a helicopter… Read more »

Tom Keane
Tom Keane
10 days ago

They should keep the Hercules they are figuring on flogging off, and form some kind of national firefighting organization. Summer’s are only going to get hotter, large fires are only going to become more often.

Nick Lewis
Nick Lewis
10 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

Surely it would have been best to build some modern type of large flying boat,ie rebuild MARS or something better

Garrett Miller
Garrett Miller
7 days ago
Reply to  Tom Keane

The Guardian Aerial Firefighting system is ideal for any rear-loading cargo aircraft. Currently being used by Isreal, Peru, and Romania just to name a few. A C-130 can deliver 16,000 liters of water or retardant. No modifications needed.

Callum Henderson
Callum Henderson
10 days ago

Very interesting and potential for huge benefits
How is it filled with waand how long does it take to fill?