Airbus’ A400M Aerial Transport: Delays, Development, and Deployment
November 27/15: Airbus is to offer surveillance and intelligence reconnaissance upgrades for its A400M and A330 Airborne tanker planes. The announcement comes at a time when governments are seeking a short-cut to enhance intelligence gathering capabilities, as action against the Islamic State increases along with operational requirements. The ability for these aircraft to hold all required fuel in their wings allows for existing off the shelf equipment to be installed with ease. Airbus has orders for these planes from France, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, all of whom are currently taking action in the Middle East. This could be seen as an attempt by Airbus to boost the usability of their aircraft amid a decrease in sales of the A400M. The drop is a result of the crash of one of the planes in Spain earlier this year.
Airbus’ A400M is a EUR 20+ billion program that aims to repeat Airbus’ civilian successes in the full size military transport market. A series of smart design decisions were made around capacity (35-37 tonnes/ 38-40 US tons, large enough for survivable armored vehicles), extensive use of modern materials, multi-role capability as a refueling tanker, and a multinational industrial program; all of which leave the aircraft well positioned to take overall market share from Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules. If the USA’s C-17 is allowed to go out of production, the A400M would also have a strong position in the strategic transport market, with only Russian AN-70, IL-76 and AN-124 aircraft as competition.
Airbus’ biggest program issue, by far, has been funding for a project that is more than EUR 7 billion over budget. The next biggest issue is timing, as a combination of A400M delays and Lockheed’s strong push for its C-130J Super Hercules narrow the field for future exports. This DID Spotlight article covers the latest developments, as the A400M Atlas moves into the delivery phase. Will Airbus’ 3rd big issue become its own customers?
The A400M Program
A400M: Tech Specs and Issues
A400M: Industrial Team
Contracts & Key Events
2014 – 2015
2008 and earlier
Appendix A – The A400M Program: Dilemmas & a Deal
Background: A400M Program
News and Views
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