Airbus Military delivered on August 1st, the first A400M to the French Air Force. The aircraft in French military service is known as A400M Atlas, opening new horizons for the military air transportation in Europe:
Airbus Military delivers first A400M to French Air Force
Airbus Military has today formally delivered the first A400M new generation airlifter, which is known in French service as the A400M Atlas, to the French Air Force, a milestone marking the beginning of the transformation of military air transport in Europe and beyond. This delivery, just authorized by the French procurement agency DGA, enables the aircraft, MSN7, to join tomorrow the French airbase of Orleans-Bricy where it will be based with the French Air Force. This delivery represents the culmination of 10 years of development by Airbus Military and more than 5,000 flight-test hours, involving close to 40,000 people working for this major European defence programme. Domingo Ureña said: “Today is a truly historic day for the European aerospace industry – marking the moment at which it becomes the new global leader in the military transport sector with an entirely new aircraft. I would like to express my sincere thanks to everyone at Airbus Military, Airbus and our suppliers whose unflagging efforts have made this enormous achievement possible, as well as our customers and OCCAR whose inputs over the years have been crucial to the success of the programme.”
More importantly, the A400M, as a new generation European airlifter takes advantage of the innovative use of new composite materials in its wings and aircraft body:
The A400M’s composite parts include most of the wing (with composite main spars), nearly the entire tail (the horizontal and vertical stabilisers and the control surfaces), the rear cargo door, the sponsons (undercarriage bays) and the propeller blades (with Kevlar shell). The wing’s 19 m (62 ft) skin panels are the largest ever produced, according toAirbus. The extensive use of composite materials enables the A400M to be much lower in weight, enabling enhanced performance both in terms of range and payload. The delivery to the French Air Force represents the culmination of 10 years of development by Airbus Military and more than 5000 flight-test hours, involving close to 40,000 people working for this major European defence programme. This first aircraft delivered to France will initially be used for the continuing training of aircrew before becoming part of the French Air Force operational transport fleet. The A400M can carry up to 116 fully-equipped paratroopers or 37 tonnes of payload, and can also serve as an air-to-air refueller capable of refuelling fast jets, other large aircraft and helicopters.
Prior to the delivery the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA) announced that the A400M had achieved military certification as the new aircraft also combines civil standards in its overall design and operational performance:
A400M Gets Military Ticket, but French Still Not Satisfied – Aviation International News
On behalf of the seven European nations buying the Airbus Military A400M, the French government defense procurement agency (French acronym DGA) announced that the new airlifter had achieved military certification. TheDGA is the technical lead for the government partners on the program and has supervised the work of 15 multinational groups of officials who examined the aircraft’s capabilities in such areas as avionics, electronic warfare and human factors. The A400M achieved European civil type certification last March. It is the world’s first large military transport to be designed and certified to civil standards from its inception, according to Airbus Military. However, the first production aircraft (MSN7) has still not been accepted by the French air force. A DGA spokesman told AIN that two more steps are required before this can happen: the Paris-based multinational A400M procurement agency (French acronymOCCAR) must issue a military qualification confirming that Airbus Military has met the contractually required specifications and the DGA must conduct an aircraft acceptance on MSN7. DGA experts are now at Airbus Military’s factory in Seville to do this, and delivery of the aircraft is expected “in the coming weeks,” the spokesman added. Airbus Military had been hoping to deliver MSN7 by June. Despite the delay, the aircraft did appear over Paris on July 14 as part of the French air force flypast to mark Bastille Day. Earlier, President Hollande flew into the Paris Air Show on one of the development aircraft. Airbus Military displayed the second production aircraft (MSN8, also for the French air force) at the show.
Finally, the delivery signals the start of a new period for Airbus military, as the new aircraft has to go out in the global market and move forward, against the fierce competition in the defence industry. Its marketing promotion becomes even more difficult due to the difficult conditions of the economic crisis in the Euro Zone, and also diminishing defence budgets. But, the A400M is here, to prove itself at all fronts of competition.