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Royal Air Force receives final A400M aircraft

Photo: Royal Air Force

The Royal Air Force has received the 22nd Atlas C1 (A400M) transport aircraft, marking the conclusion of the delivery, development, and production phase.

Making its way to RAF Brize Norton, the new home for the aircraft, the four-engine turboprop Atlas arrived from the Airbus plant in Seville, Spain.

The final aircraft’s production was a collaborative effort between the A400M team at DE&S, Airbus, OCCAR, and the RAF, ensuring the RAF’s ability to transport troops and equipment for military operations and humanitarian missions.

While progressing forward, the platform’s development will involve a systematic retro-fit program enabling it to attain an operational configuration that closely aligns with other A400M operators such as France, Germany, Spain, Turkey, Benelux, and Malaysia.

“Recent events in Sudan have illustrated once again the importance of tactical air mobility. Operating from an austere airfield Atlas helped evacuate over 2,200 entitled personnel and fly them to safety,” said Air Vice-Marshal Mark Flewin CBE,
Air Officer Commander.

“The latest aircraft therefore joins a fleet which is already proven on operations and utilized globally in support of UK interests.” Atlas has a fly-by-wire flight control system and full glass cockpit. It can carry a 37-ton payload over 2,000nm to both established and remote civilian and military airfields. Its exceptional short field performance enables it to operate from short un-prepared as well as semi-prepared strips, all achievable whilst utilizing night vision goggles,” he added.

Since 2014, the Atlas aircraft has excelled in relief operations, COVID-19 response, evacuations, and global defense support.

The Falkland Islands house an Atlas aircraft for maritime reconnaissance, search and rescue, and medical evacuation operations in the South Atlantic.

With its air-to-air refueling capabilities, the Atlas further enables airdrops of essential supplies in Antarctica, showcasing its adaptability and reach in diverse operational environments.

The A400M has the capability to fly distances up to 4,800 nm/8,900 km, at a cruising altitude up to 37,000 ft/11,300 m, and at a speed of up to Mach 0.72, very similar to that of a turbofan powered airlifter. It can even fly up to 40,000 ft/12,200 m for special operations. The A400M can carry up to 116 fully equipped paratroopers or 37 tons of payload, with additional capability as an air-to-air refuel aircraft.