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Future Transport aircraft for the RAF the A400m built by Airbus Military (Previously Future Large Aircraft - FLA)

The A400M offers the military air transport world a modern, multi-role military airlifter and is to replace the ageing fleets of C-130 Hercules in service with the air forces around the world. The A400M, Airbus Military is setting new airlift standards and changing the way in which future military programmes will be managed.

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 has slipped from 2007 to 2010.

The A400M aircraft will provide tactical and strategic mobility to all three Services in peace, crisis and war. In crisis or war, A400M will be employed on inter-and intra-theatre air transport tasks, primarily in support of the Joint Rapid Reaction Force (JRRF).


A400M Specifications

Max Payload

37 tonnes @ 2.25g

Range at Max Payload


Cruise Speed Range (M = Mach No.)

0.68 - 0.72 M

Overall Dimensions








Cargo Box








As an example, the aircraft will be capable of carrying 32 Tonnes over 2300 miles e.g. 2 x Apache helicopters or 6 x land Rovers plus trailers or outsize dump truck with tracked excavator. It will also be capable of cruising at speeds comparable with other pure-jet military transports (0.68M-0.72) and can operate either at low-level (down to 150ft AGL) or up to an altitude of 40 000ft.

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 Engineers’ equipment. 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). 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 proposal.

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 A400M programme is a direct result of a commonly expressed need by eight European air forces for a new generation military airlifter.

The scope of this initiative to specify and procure an aircraft of a common definition is unique and clearly points to the way forward in the domain of "smart procurement" for the armed forces of allied nations.

These European NATO members issued a Request for Proposal in September 1997 and it was to respond to this RFP that the aerospace industries of these nations came together in the partnership now known as Airbus Military. June 2001 saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which represented a major milestone towards the industrial launch of the A400M.

The first compete set of A400M wings was delivered on 11 April 2007 from Airbus UK’s Filton production facility to the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Seville, Spain.

The first compete set of A400M wings was delivered on 11 April 2007 from Airbus UK’s Filton production facility to the Final Assembly Line (FAL) in Seville, Spain.

First A400M military transporter rolled out - August 2008

In a ceremony presided over by His Majesty Juan Carlos I, King of Spain, Airbus Military has rolled out the first complete A400 military transport aircraft from the Final Assembly Line facility in Seville, Spain.

Delay for the First Flight of the A400M

EADS has confirmed the A400M first flight is postponed beyond the end of this year, but the impact on the delivery schedule remains unclear.


The program is still waiting for the flying test bed – a C-130 modified by Marshall Airspace with one TP400-D6 under-wing – to get off the ground. That test campaign “should start in the coming weeks”, EADS says.

Photos Copyright Airbus Military SL


Test Equipment

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