It’s always nice to see a large airlifter maneuver at low level.
Since they made their first appearance in the famous “Mach Loop” earlier this year, Royal Air Force A400M Atlas tactical airlifters are becoming a frequent sight in the valleys of the low level training area in Wales, UK.
Here’s a pass by one of the A400Ms from RAF Brize Norton on Apr. 10, 2017.
The RAF has received its first of 22 Atlas on Nov. 14, 2014 to replace the aging fleet of C-130 aircraft. The Atlas aircraft are assigned to the RAF 70 Sqn and the 24 Sqn, that is Air Mobility Operational Conversion Unit. The 206(R) Sqn, acting as the Heavy Aircraft Test and Evaluation Unit, based at MoD Boscombe Down but with a flight detachment at RAF Brize Norton flies the A400M on loan from other squadrons when required to undertake specific testing activities.
The A400M is capable of carrying a load of 25 tonnes over a range of 2,000NM at speeds comparable with pure-jet military transports. The aircraft is able to fly at high-level altitudes (up to 40,000ft) and at low-level (down to 150ft agl) and this the reason why the Atlas will often pay a visit to the Mach Loop.
Aircraft involved in special operations, reconnaissance, Search And Rescue, troops or humanitarian airdrops in troubled spots around the world may have to fly at low altitudes.
For this reason, in the age of stealth bombers, standoff weapons, drones, cyberwar, electronic warfare, etc. low-level high-speed flying is still important in both planes and helicopters’ combat pilot training.
Gonna use a C-130 or A-400 to drop a MOAB or MOP on a heavily defended target? Well then, you will want to use terrain masking to shield your approach to the drop point.
Pilots of these types of large special-op multi-mission aircraft need to be trained in low-level, especially night ops using NVGs. Of course you’d want some CAP, SEAD and AEW support in the strike package to help you get through to the target. I’m thinking Parchin, Natanz or even Pyongyang.
Gotta keep those skills sharp! You never know when the call to duty will come, especially against abominable terrorist nations like Iran and North Korea – the global nexus of evil!