The MoD committed to 25 x Airbus A400M in
2000 to meet the Future Transport Aircraft (FTA) requirement for an air
lift capability to replace the remaining Hercules C-130K and C130J
fleet. The A400 is a collaborative programme involving eight European
nations (Germany, France, Turkey, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Luxembourg
and United Kingdom), procuring a total of 180 aircraft.
The expected UK cost is some £2.4 billion for 25 aircraft. The projected
in-service date is now 2011.
The A400M should provide tactical and
strategic mobility to all three Services. The capabilities required
of the A400M include; the ability to operate from well established
airfields and semi-prepared rough landing areas in extreme climates
and all weather by day and night; to carry a variety of vehicles and
other equipment, freight, and troops over extended ranges; to be
capable of air dropping paratroops and equipment; and to be capable
of being unloaded with the minimum of ground handling equipment.
The A400M should also meet a requirement for an airlift capability
to move large single items such as attack helicopters and some Royal
Airbus Military SL of Madrid, a subsidiary
of Airbus Industrie, is responsible for management of the whole of the
Companies involved in the programme are. BAE Systems (UK), EADS
(Germany, France and Spain), Flabel (Belgium) and Tusas Aerospace
Industries (Turkey). Final assembly will almost certainly take place in
Spain. In May 2003, the European consortium engine TP400-D6 was selected
for the A400M military transport aircraft over the rival Pratt & Whitney
The most commonly quoted argument
in favour of the A400M over the C-130J is that this aircraft could
carry a 25 ton payload over a distance of 4,000 km. Thus, it is
argued that a fleet of 40 x A400M could carry a UK Brigade to the
Gulf within 11.5 days, as opposed to the 28.5 days required to make
a similar deployment with 40 x C 130s. To operate a fleet of 40 x
A400M would of course require aircraft from elsewhere in Europe. In
any event, we believe that the RAF will probably retain its C-17s,
and will operate a mixed transport fleet comprising the C-130J,
A-400 and C-17.
The first aircraft was completed in June 2008 and is due to fly in
‘mid 2009’ with deliveries until 2025. Some reports
regarding the A400M refer to the Future Transport Aircraft (FTA).
Photos Copyright Airbus Military SL