Specialist teams from two RAF units have been developing the capability of the Atlas transport aircraft to refuel fast jets by conducting a first time trial of a new fuelling system, say the RAF here.

“Personnel from the Fuels Support Team, part of No Expeditionary Logistics Squadron based at RAF Wittering, deployed to RAF Brize Norton to develop the Air Landed Aircraft Refuelling System capability used by the A400M ‘Atlas’.

The team take fuel from a large multi-engine aircraft like the Atlas and transfer it into a tactical refuelling facility to provide support to aircraft forward deployed from their Main Operating Bases to more austere locations.”

Wing Commander Patton, Officer Commanding 30 Squadron, was quoted as saying:

“This a very exciting opportunity for the Atlas force.  We, in concert with our partners, are working constantly to develop and prove increasing A400M tactical capability – at pace.  The work with No 1 Expeditionary Logistics Squadron showcases the ability of A400M to rapidly establish a forward refuelling point, which is critical to projecting our Forces wherever they may be needed in the world.”

You can read more here.

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Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
19 days ago

This has nothing to do with AAR and something to do with dispersal.

Is that some kind of fuel bladder that is shown flat weighted down?

It is curious how badly the RAF piece is written. Standing on its own, it makes no sense, unless you already know quite a bit: which isn’t the purpose of outwards comms!

Mark Forsyth
Mark Forsyth
19 days ago

So in summary: An RAF Expeditionary Unit lands at an airfield in an A400. Unloads a big rubber bag, spreads it out on the ground, siphons some fuel from the A400 into the bag, and then uses it to top up other aircraft if and when they come into land and need some fuel. In the Army that is known as a rolling replen. Glad to see the RAF are relearning the skills they forgot when they lost Harrier.

Michael
Michael
18 days ago
Reply to  Mark Forsyth

Used to be referred to as Pillow Tanks.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
18 days ago
Reply to  Mark Forsyth

I remember when negotiating the A400M contract building this capability into the tech spec. Then when holding a Capability Milestone review meeting with the Programme SRO and delivery team much later, we learned that the RAF apparently no longer had this requirement. It was described at the time for forward refuelling of helicopters. So it’s good to see the requirement is apparently being resuscitated.

George Parker
George Parker
18 days ago

With the F35B and future VTOL drones capable of dispersal operations from makeshift locations. The capability could prove of great use. Although I imagine the landing requirements of the A400M is a limiting factor.

Last edited 18 days ago by George Parker
Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
18 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Yes, the Chinook can do it as well but obviously with much more limited capacities. The A400M landing/takeoff performance is better than the C130, by the way. More on a par with the C160 Transall.

George Parker
George Parker
17 days ago

Cheers. The info regarding A400M having a shorter take off and landing spec than C130 is astounding. Did you know that the US C130 managed to land and take off from their aircraft carriers. Not just once or twice but multiple times to more than prove capability. They didn’t use cats or arrestor wires either.
Needless to say the pilots allegedly pushed their testicles around in wheelbarrows. See youtube – The US Navy’s plan to fly C-130s off aircraft carriers.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
17 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Yeah. Takeoff and landing performance is a factor of all up weight and installed power. Those Hercs would have been very light and used rocket assisted takeoff. But still impressive.

George Parker
George Parker
17 days ago

No rocket assists and they were fully laden for both take off and landing. Watch the video.

John Clark
John Clark
16 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Some serious brown trousers flying there George!

George Parker
George Parker
16 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Sure is. Just goes to show what can be done. I wonder what is possible with a CASA C-295 and the ski jump on Big Lizzy. It probably would not need the ski jump.

DaveyB
DaveyB
19 days ago

This truly is the worst of MoD PR Spin. Within the RAF supply world, there is a unit called the Tactical Supply Wing (TSW – Tizwoz). Their sole purpose is to refuel aircraft in the field, particularly helicopters. They can do this a number of ways. One is to use off road capable fuel tankers and set up a refuelling point straight from the tanker. Another is to airlift a number of fuel bladders and pumps underslung via helicopters. The third method is as shown above where you use a donor aircraft, normally a Herc or Chinook, to use its… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
19 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

As Davey says!

TSW are still at Stafford for some reason? Though it’s long since been transferred to the Army from RAF Stafford days.

Only other notes I’d add is also mention the Joint Helicopter Support Squadron which also supports SHF ops in the field.

The varied units of the RAFs 85 ELW, including the one mentioned in the article are in addition to the TSW, JHSS, TCW ( 90SU ), all of which enable these operations.

Donaldson
Donaldson
18 days ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Any reading material from the GW2 experience? I’ve always been interested in how they go behind the lines and set a FARP up, I know the Americans did similar to refuel something like 30 Apaches deep behind the lines.

George Parker
George Parker
18 days ago
Reply to  Donaldson

Clearly a job for the Parachute RAF Reg.

Joe16
Joe16
19 days ago

Whatever the RAF may say, this is surely of more use for our helicopter forces rather than the fast movers? I struggle to imagine which “austere” locations can be accessed by fast jets, I simply don’t believe that the F-35B can be used in this way regardless of V/TOL capability.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
19 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

I’m guessing it will have a lot to do with the type of surface used?

UK practises for F-35B austere ops

“It won’t be as carefree as the Harrier, because obviously you have a lot more [advanced systems and skin surfaces] going on with the F-35, but it is certainly something we are looking to do,” Air Cdre Bradshaw said in 2018.

https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/uk-practices-for-f-35b-austere-ops

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
19 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Saab Gripen is a master at this!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V0pWBgoS50w

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
19 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

And of course, the Harrier!

🇬🇧 👍 🆙

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lykFvqPk_Y4

Last edited 19 days ago by Nigel Collins
Angus
Angus
19 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

The Italians have also tried this out with their B’s so its possible with ours too. Although in the end all B’s will most likely come under the Senior Service and go to the flat tops which have everything onboard they would ever need.

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
19 days ago
Reply to  Angus

More than possible Angus hints at 2025 past the initial 48 seems to be the timeline at present and all 48 might be delayed until then? I think Drones will play a major factor as to how many we will actually end up with and to what standard. “I’ve seen the debate going on in the States. We think [the] F-35 is great,” Quin said. “We want more of them, but we’re also aware of getting that right balance between fighters and drones, etc. so of course we’ll be keeping under review exactly what the right numbers are, but it… Read more »

Joe16
Joe16
19 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Yes, pretty much. The problem being that the F-35B has significantly hotter and more powerful downblast than the old harrier, and obviously the Gripen that you mention. If a carrier deck has to be reinforced with special ceramic coatings, yet still gets discoloured black by the heat (see any aerial views of HMS Queen Elizabeth to see what I mean), then I find it hard to imagine that any more than a single takeoff/landing on any given stretch of road would be possible without destroying the surface. On an unfinished runway, the amount of debris could prove to be a… Read more »

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
19 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

All good points!

Daniel
Daniel
19 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

Obviously it would be more expensive than the matting they used to use for Harrier, but surely it would be a relatively simple engineering exercise to develop modular matting which comes with the heat resistant coating used on the QEC pre-applied?

Dave G
Dave G
18 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

What if you had wanted to put a couple of fast jets into kabul to support the evacuation without a large transit each time they were needed on station? There was limited fuel available (aiui the transports tried to fly in with enough to get out again without needing a top up) and hostiles may have tried to damage the airport tanks and kit.

if there was ever a second falklands war for eg, what if someone managed to damage the fuel infrastrucure and you needed to keep the aircraft flying long enough for repairs or alternate options?

Donaldson
Donaldson
18 days ago
Reply to  Dave G

During the Kabul evacuation the USN had a carrier strike group off Pakistan with it’s airwing providing top cover along with AC-130s, Tanker aircraft were also orbiting nearby A2A re-fuelling the transports as you said cause the airport ran out of fuel.

Glass Half Full
Glass Half Full
18 days ago
Reply to  Joe16

You’re being too literal in your interpretation of “austere”. It doesn’t have to be a forest clearing requiring VTOL. Its more likely to be a short stretch of motorway, dual carriageway, A-road or basically anywhere long enough and with a surface that can support F35B STOL ops; where STOL doesn’t require a surface to absorb the same sustained down blast from the engine that VTOL does. STOL is likely to be more desirable than VTOL for maximizing weapon and fuel load too.

Paul T
Paul T
18 days ago

+1

Steve M
Steve M
19 days ago

They used to do it on the C-130’s with tanks internally an 2 hose units that you reeled out through the para doors especially used with the SHF.

Paul42
Paul42
19 days ago

Just for a minute there i thought someone was using common sense and taking advantage of the A400Ms AAR potential…….but of course they’re not……

Last edited 19 days ago by Paul42
Coll
Coll
19 days ago

I would like to see a return of a light fighter like the Jaguar for dispersal operations.

Steve M
Steve M
19 days ago
Reply to  Coll
Last edited 19 days ago by Steve M
Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
18 days ago
Reply to  Coll

Spot on, what an amazing aircraft including the pilots who flew them.
An updated version of this with a fitted GAU-8 Avenger 30mm Gatling gun and the inclusion of spear cap 3 missiles to boot would cause a few headaches for enemy troops and vehicles on the ground.

Not forgetting low inflatable tyres of course.

If only we had the money!!!

I’m sure you’ll enjoy this short video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFCfI4EaD0E

Last edited 18 days ago by Nigel Collins
Steve M
Steve M
18 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

we could marinise (is that a word?) wing fold just outboard of landing gear, current max weight of a-10 is 22,000kg which is within the Cats&traps RFI 🙂

Nigel Collins
Nigel Collins
18 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

After missing out on Typhoon, I was hoping to see a marinised version of Tempest as the materials being used will make it lighter but doubt this will happen.

Steve M
Steve M
18 days ago
Reply to  Nigel Collins

Don’t think Tempest will be ‘good’ at CAS same reason US keeping A-10 was supposed to be replaced by F-35

Airborne
Airborne
18 days ago

Big fuel bladder held down by shit loads of sand bags! Top tech…..