A Royal Air Force A400M Atlas has carried out the longest-ever flight of this aircraft type between RAF Brize Norton in the United Kingdom and the island of Guam in the western Pacific Ocean.
The aircraft, from 10/101 Squadron, departed the UK on July 3, 2023, and spent 20 hours and 36 minutes in the air.
The selected polar route took the Atlas the closest to the North Pole that any A400M has ever been. The Atlas was refueled three times during the flight, once over the Atlantic by a RAF A330 MRTT, over Alaska, and finally over the Pacific Ocean. The second and third refuelings were carried out by US Air Force tankers flying out of Eielson Airbase, Alaska.
This ultra-long flight took place within the framework of the “Mobility Guardian” exercise that aims to test and showcase the UK’s ability to deploy forces over long distances. Once in Guam, the British crew will train together with forces from the United States, Australia, Canada, France, Japan, and New Zealand.
Around the same time, the French Air Force completed its own long distance deployment exercise, with six Rafale fighters and accompanying tanker and transport support aircraft from Europe also arriving in Guam. However, unlike the RAF A400M, the French formation stopped at several points along the route.