Airbus’ A400M Aerial Transport: Delays, Development, and Deployment
September 26/19: Air-Refueling Contacts With A Helicopter Airbus Defence and Space (DS) has performed the first air-to-air refueling (AAR) contacts between the A400M tanker-transport aircraft and a helicopter, the company announced in a press release. The tests, which occurred over four flights, saw 51 ‘dry‘, which means no fuel passed, contacts between an A400M tanker and an Airbus Helicopter H225M Caracal helicopter over southern France. The contacts were made between 1,000 ft and 10,000 ft altitude and at speeds as low as 105 kt. The tests also included the first proximity trials between the A400M and an Airbus Helicopters H160 helicopter. The A400M is certified to be quickly configured as a tanker, not requiring a dedicated aircraft version. The A400M carries up to 111,600 lb of fuel in its wings and center wing box, without compromising any cargo hold area.
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 – 2019
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