The A400M is the long-range military transport aircraft developed by Airbus Defence, and is the most technologically advanced aircraft of this type in the world, already in service by different Air Forces.
Propelled by four turboprop engines, it has been designed to fulfill the current and upcoming Armed Forces’ needs. It stands out for its multifunctionality, as the A400M combines the capability to carry strategic loads with the ability to deliver even into tactical locations with small and unprepared airstrips. And in addition it acts as a frontline-tanker for other aircraft.
The A400M was launched in May 2003 to respond to the combined needs of seven European Nations regrouped within OCCAR (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Spain, Turkey and the UK), with Malaysia joining in 2005. The A400M made its first flight on 11 December 2009. The first production aircraft was delivered to the French Air Force in August 2013 and in service a year after.
Among its features and capabilities:
– Cargo Hold: With a maximum payload of up to 37 tonnes (81 600 lb) and a volume of 340 m3(12,000 ft3), the A400M can carry numerous pieces of outside cargo including, vehicles and helicopters that are too large or too heavy for previous generation tactical airlifters, for example, an NH90 or a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, or an heavy infantry fighting vehicle for military purposes. It can also carry a heavy logistic truck, or a rescue boat, or large lifting devices, such as excavators or mobile cranes needed to assist in disaster relief. As for crew and passengers, it can accommodate 116 people or fully equipped paratroopers, thanks to its large cargo hold. In this sense, it stands out its capacity for aerial launch, being able to launch loads or paratroopers from high and low altitudes (up to 25 tons).
-Speed: Thanks to its state-of-the-art technologies, including its four unique EuroProp International (EPI) TP 400 turboprops, 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. These features provide a special potential for strategic and logistical missions, since the A400M can fly faster and higher than other aircraft of its range.
– Refuelling: Designed from the outset to be a dual-role transport and tanker aircraft, the A400M also highlights for its air-to-air refuelling capabilities. The two hose and drogue under-wing refuelling pods can each provide a fuel flow of up to 400 US gal / 1,200 kg per minute to receiver aircraft. Refuelling can also be done through a centre-line Hose and Drum Unit (HDU) which provides a higher fuel flow of some 600 US gal / 1,800 kg per minute. In addition, thanks to its turboprop engines can fly both at low and high speeds and altitudes, thus facilitating refuelling of aircraft such as fighters (Eurofighter) or large aircraft (such as the C295 or even another A400M).
The A400M Final Assembly Line (FAL) is located in Seville, at Airbus San Pablo site (former factory of EADS-CASA), next to the Seville International Airport and the Aerospace Technology Park of Andalusia, Aeropolis, and it’s one of the most modern aircraft manufacturing and assembly plants in the world. In the A400M programme are involved many companies of the Andalusian aerospace industry and from our Association, which have contributed to the consolidation and growth of the sector in Andalusia until becoming the third aeronautical hub in Europe. In fact, this programme represents 27% of the total turnover of the Andalusian aerospace sector (2016 data).
The A400M programme has a total of 174 orders and 62 deliveries made.
More information: See Airbus Defence website