Since last Monday, September 11, an A400M Atlas from the 61st Transport Wing of Orleans and three Rafales from the 4th Fighter Wing of Saint-Dizier have participated in the fourth edition of the “Eunomia” exercise, together with the air forces and navies of Greece, Italy and Cyprus.

 On the high seas in the Eastern Mediterranean, the exercise aimed to strengthen joint and combined fleet interoperability while improving coordination capabilities in international waters. French airmen, flying from the Tanagra air base, located forty kilometers from the Greek capital, participated in the training. This Hellenic Air Force base also hosts squadrons with French-made aircraft: Rafale and Mirage 2000-5.

“It is the first time that the A400M participates in this exercise,” declared Captain Antoine, pilot of transport squadron 4/61 “Béarn”. Under these circumstances, the Atlas autonomously escorted the three Rafales over almost 2,600 kilometers from the 113 air base of Saint-Dizier: a great first for the transport aircraft. “This plane is a real Swiss army knife,” he says. 

The transport allowed us to refuel the Rafales in flight and transport their technical packages and personnel so that the detachment was autonomous in situ.” The shuttle flight lasted three and a half hours. It allowed, once again, to test the MORANE operational concept, the agile deployment mode of the Air and Space Force: carrying what is necessary to travel far and be quickly operational.

The in-flight refueling was carried out by a crew from the Tactical Transport Aircraft Program Team (EMATT), a unit of the Military Air Experience Center (CEAM), which attended the exercise to evaluate the specific escort procedures for combat aircraft. At the same time, the exercise allowed the crews of the Atlas tanker mission (in-flight refueling) to be qualified.

Thanks to its refueling modules located at the ends of the wings, the aircraft could simultaneously refuel two fighters using its flexible hoses, representing a considerable expansion of missions. The A400M Atlas deployed in “Eunomia” recorded fifteen contacts.

France deploys the A400M as a long-range tanker for the first time.

The A400M Atlas

Entered into service in 2013, the 21 A400M Atlas aircraft of the French Air and Space Force carry out a wide range of tactical and strategic missions: air transport or drop of troops and cargo, assault landings in rough terrain, humanitarian and medical evacuation , in-flight refueling, etc.

French Air and Space Force