Airbus’ A400M Aerial Transport: Delays, Development, and Deployment
June 10/19: DIRCM According to Israeldefense, Germany wants to buy Elbit’s DIRCM (Directional Infrared Counter Measures) systems for the Bundeswehr’s fleet of A400M transport aircraft. The A400M is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The German Air Force will operate 53 A400Ms in two configurations: 37 tactical aircraft and 16 others in the logistic version. Each of the 53 transporters will be equipped with an Elbit DIRCM system. According to Elbit Systems, DIRCM solutions are designed to protect aircraft against heat-seeking ground-to-air missiles. They integrate advanced fiber laser technology together with a high frame rate thermal camera and a small, highly dynamic mirror turret. Elbit Systems’ cooperation with German arms manufacturer DIEHL Defence on the integration of Elbit’s DIRCM system into the A400M was first announced in 2014.
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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