Airbus’ A400M Aerial Transport: Delays, Development, and Deployment
February 11/19: Aircraft Exchange South Korea and Spain are launching negotiations on a proposed deal to swap Spanish military transport planes with Korean trainer jets. Talks are expected to start this month. In November, Spain proposed to Korea to trade some of its A-400M Airbus transport planes for KT-1 and T-50 trainer jets produced by Korea Aerospace Industries. The A-400M Atlas is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It can also perform aerial refueling, and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment. The KAI KT-1 Woongbi is a single-engined, turboprop, basic training aircraft. It is the first completely indigenous Korean aircraft ever developed. The Kai T-50 is a supersonic advanced trainer and light combat aircraft. Spain has reportedly ordered 27 A-400Ms from Airbus but has decided to sell 13 of them, four to six to Korea. The country received consent from Airbus. In return, Spain hopes to get 30 KT-1s and 20 T-50s. If the deal was realized it would mark South Korea’s first export of aircraft to Europe.
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 – 2018
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