In 2000 the MoD committed to 25 x Airbus
A400M (later reduced to 22) to meet the Future Transport Aircraft (FTA)
requirement for an air lift capability to replace the remaining Hercules
C-130K and C-130J 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 174 aircraft.
The expected UK project cost is some £3.2 billion for 22 aircraft and
the first aircraft will be delivered to the RAF in 2014 with an
in-service date of March 2015. Full Operating Capability (FOC) should be
possible in 2018 when 12 aircraft should be in service.
The A400M will provide tactical and
strategic mobility to all three Services. Atlasís capabilities will
enable the aircraft 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.
Atlas will also meet a requirement for an
airlift capability to move large single items such as attack helicopters
and some Royal Engineersí equipment. In short, Atlas is capable of
transporting 32 tonnes of cargo over a range of 4,500 km. Airbus
Military SL of Madrid, a subsidiary of Airbus Industrie, is responsible
for management of the whole of the A400M programme. Companies involved
in the programme are. BAE Systems (UK), EADS (Germany, France and
Spain), Flabel (Belgium) and Tusas Aerospace Industries (Turkey).
It now looks likely that the RAF will probably retain its C-17s, and
will operate a mixed transport fleet comprising the C-130J, A-400 Atlas
and C-17 until at least the end of the decade.
Orders for other nations include Germany 53; France 50; Spain 27;
Belgium 7; Turkey 10; Luxembourg 1 and Malaysia 4.
A400M ATLAS Specifications
and 1 Loadmaster
equipped troops or 66 stretchers accompanied by 25 medical
(2,049 miles) at maximum payload
|| 2 x Rolls Royce Gnome H1400-1 turboshafts
Photos Copyright Airbus Military SL