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German Air Force receives first A321LR troop transport aircraft

German Air force A321 LR
Photo: Lufthansa Technik

Lufthansa Technik AG used the ILA Berlin airshow last week as the backdrop for the delivery of the first of two Airbus A321LR (Long Range) troop transports to the German Air Force.

The two aircraft will be operated by the Executive Transport Wing of the German defense ministry, which operates as part of the air force.

Airbus is delivering the “base” aircraft under a contract from 2020, which then undergo the militarization and modification process at Lufthansa Technik.

The conversion of the first aircraft at Lufthansa Technik’s base in Hamburg began last December. In the months that followed, it was initially modified for flexible troop and passenger transport as well as parliamentary flight operations on short, medium and long-haul routes. The maximum capacity in this configuration is 136 passengers.

As part of this initial modification phase, Lufthansa Technik also made preparations for the so-called medical evacuation (MedEvac) role, which will expand the aircraft’s scope of operations to include capabilities for the qualified air transport of wounded, injured and diseased passengers.

This encompassed, for example, extensive pre-modifications such as an extended oxygen supply on board, which is absolutely necessary for the upcoming use as a “flying intensive care unit”.

The German Air Force received the first A321 after retiring the final A310-304 transport airframe earlier this month. The retired aircraft were also used for MedEvac missions.

The necessary supplemental type certificate, both civil and military, for the new aircraft together with the associated New Generation Patient Transport Units (German: Patiententransporteinheit Neuer Generation, in short: PTE NG) is planned for mid-2023. It will enable the transport of up to six intensive care patients or of up to twelve mildly or moderately ill/injured patients. Lufthansa Technik will deliver a total of twelve units and two reserve units of the PTE NG to the German armed forces.

Photo: Lufthansa Technik

“For me, the main thing is that this Airbus A321 Long Range in its gray livery sends a clear signal to our troops. The soldiers of the German Armed Forces will be delighted with the new transport aircraft – an upgrade to ‘military business class’,” added Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, the German Air Force chief.

“Our new Airbus will soon be flying west across the Atlantic to pick up Navy exchange crews in Latin America, for example, it will fly our Army comrades to Lithuania or our servicemen and women to Africa.”

This A321 will shoulder an enormous mission package and help save lives on its worldwide missions. We are thus excited about this new ‘member’ of our ‘air force family’. Our flight crews, on-board crews, technicians and members of the Special Air Mission Wing welcome it warmly.”

The handover at the ILA was preceded by a test and acceptance program conducted by the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), the Bundeswehr Technical Center for Aircraft and Aeronautical Equipment (WTD 61) and the Special Air Mission Wing of the German Federal Ministry of Defense (Flugbereitschaft BMVg).

The aircraft, which currently is still on the civilian register, can now soon receive its official military certification under the tactical registration 15+10. At the same time, the first members of flight, cabin and technical crews of the German Air Force have already been trained by Lufthansa Technik and Lufthansa Technical Training in handling the new A321LR. The sister aircraft with the tactical registration 15+11 is expected to follow shortly, the company said.