Air International 2007-02
J.Lake - Airbus A400M - Next Generation Airlifter /Military/
Airbus Military has designed the A400M as a replacement for C-160s and C-130s. Despite the success of the Transall and Hercules, European A400M customers decided that an aircraft with a larger cargo hold was required. Germany is buying 60 of the new airlifters to replace its fleet of C-160Ds, one of which is pictured.
Europrop International's TP400-D6 will allow the A400M to cruise at Mach 0.72 at altitudes up to 40,000ft. The powerplant is to be tested on a C-130 and will take to the air for the first time in 2007.
After many years the A400M is finally taking shape. The first nose section will be delivered to the Seville plant in early 2007 and final assembly of the aircraft will begin soon afterwards.
Pilots of the A400M will use head-up displays as their primary flight instruments, augmented by large multi-function displays. The aircraft will also have sidestick controllers, as used on the Airbus family of airliners.
As well as being a capable airlifter, the A400M can be fitted with air-to-air refuelling pods under each wing and on the centreline. With two cargo bay fuel tanks installed, the type will have the same fuel off-load as an RAF VC.10 K.4. This computer-generated image of an A400M is shown replenishing a French Air Force Mirage 2000N.
Nine countries have pledged to buy the A400M. The Airbus order book for the type currently stands at 192 aircraft.
A computer-generated image of an A400M ejecting flares for self-defence. Customers will have the option of fitting their aircraft with a comprehensive defensive aids suite. Initially, only nine RAF aircraft were to be delivered with chaff/flare dispensers, but as a result of experience in Afghanistan it has since been decided that all 25 aircraft will have the system.