Airbus Defence and Space has delivered the first Airbus A400M new generation airlifter to the Royal Air Force, beginning the next stage of the transformation of the United Kingdom´s air mobility fleet.
The aircraft is the first of 22 ordered by the UK and will be known in service as the A400M Atlas.
Prime Minister David Cameron was today guest of honour at a ceremony to celebrate the acceptance of the aircraft at RAF Brize Norton, which is in his parliamentary constituency, where the entire Atlas fleet will be based. He was accompanied by Minister for Defence Equipment Support &Technology Philip Dunne.
Executive Vice President Military Aircraft, Domingo Ureña Raso, said: “It is an enormous pleasure to see the A400M entering service with the RAF which is one of the leading exponents of military air mobility worldwide. I would like to express my sincere thanks to all our employees, especially those in the UK, as well as OCCAR and our UK customer for making this day possible.
“Airbus Defence and Space is today privileged to be the biggest provider of large aircraft to the RAF and we are absolutely committed to executing that responsibility to the very best of our abilities for many years to come,” Raso added.
The A400M will replace the C-130 in RAF service but, because it can carry approximately twice as much load, or the same load twice as far, fewer aircraft will be required.
Uniquely it is able both to cruise at jet-like speeds and altitudes over intercontinental ranges due to its extremely powerful engines and advanced aerodynamic design, as well as to operate repeatedly from short and unprepared airstrips close to the scene of military action or humanitarian crisis.
At Brize Norton the A400M will operate alongside the RAF’s Airbus Voyager multi-role tanker transport fleet. The wings of both aircraft are built in the UK at Filton and Broughton respectively. Additionally the Voyager’s engines are produced in the UK by Rolls-Royce, which is also a member of the Europrop International consortium that produces the A400M’s TP400 engines.
Altogether the A400M supports some 8,000 jobs in the UK including around 900 Airbus Group employees working directly on the aircraft at Filton. To date eight nations have ordered 174 aircraft of which the first seven have now been delivered.