Tag Archives: Airbus A400M Atlas

Airbus A400M Atlas Tactical Transport Completes Beach Landing Trials.

Interesting Exercise Demonstrates A400M Unimproved Takeoff/Landing Capabilities.

The new Royal Air Force Airbus A400M tactical transport, aircraft ZM414, recently conducted a fascinating tactical capability trial at the Pembrey Sands Air Weapons Range in South Wales, U.K.

The Airbus A400M demonstrated its capability to insert into and deploy from unimproved sand airstrips while loaded. This is a critical mission set for tactical transports, especially in support of special operations in forward areas in austere conditions.

While landing and take-off operations from unimproved airstrips have been previously proven with the A400M this test confirmed the aircraft’s capabilities with a heavy load. Close examination of the aircraft’s performance, especially on landing, suggest it was heavily laden during the Pembrey Sands tests.

The testing and verification flights were organized by the DE&S (Defense Equipment & Support) A400M Project Team, based at MOD Abbey Wood in Bristol, working with the Airbus A400M development team and the Royal Air Force.

In a statement released by the MoD (Ministry of Defense) local Wing Commander Simon Boyle told media that the “Indication is that the aircraft will perform very well in the tactical role and on unprepared runways. We’re starting to understand how good the aircraft could be in the tactical environment.”

The Pembrey Sands Air Weapons Range is a fascinating test and training range that is effectively an island separated from the mainland on the West and North by an estuary and Carmarthen Bay, then to the East by a shallow, marshy inlet. The southern border is virtually impenetrable thick forest of the Pembrey Country Park.

A RAF Airbus A400M Atlas conducts testing of unimproved forward airfield operations at Pembrey Sands Air Weapons Range in South Wales, U.K. (Crown Copyright)

Pembrey Sands is an active live weapons deployment range used by a wide variety of tactical combat aircraft from many countries. Hulks of derelict vehicles and even old Jaguar combat aircraft are strewn around the island for use as targets. It is a unique facility for training and testing of the RAF and other air arms.

Other tactical transports have conducted beach and grass landing exercises at Pembrey Sands prior to the A400M trials including C-130s and C-160 Transalls.

Mission sets that may include the capability to land on unimproved or dirt/sand airstrips could include the insertion of special operations light vehicles for strike and/or reconnaissance missions in denied areas and support of airborne assault operations. The ability to take-off from sand landing areas is especially important for the evacuation of casualties from forward areas. In general a team of pathfinder personnel is inserted into an unimproved, austere landing area to inspect and prepare the landing area and then to act as air and ground traffic controllers once aircraft begin to use the area.

Perhaps one of the most infamous examples of air forces using tactical transports in the special operations role from unimproved airstrips is the April 1980 U.S. Operation Eagle Claw, the failed attempt to rescue hostages in Iran. The mission ended in disaster. A U.S. heavy helicopter and C-130 transport collided in the dark on the ground while forward refueling resulting in a fire and the operation being abandoned. Testing and qualification of the A400M Atlas in sandy, unimproved conditions is a direct effort to avoid similar outcomes in the future.

A significant amount of preparation of the landing/takeoff area at Pembrey Sands was done before for the trials by the 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, based at the neighboring Rock Barracks.

Despite some early concerns the A400M Atlas development program has gained momentum with several countries including the U.K. and Germany over the past year. This RAF exercise is an example of the program’s continued success.

Photographers capture Airbus A400M at low level through the Mach Loop for First Time

An Airbus A400M tactical airlifter training low level flying is a pretty cool sight!

Aviation enthusiasts at the famous “Mach Loop” low level training area in West Central Wales on the west coast of UK got a treat early this week when an Airbus A400M Atlas made two low-level passes through the valley area.

It was the first appearance by the A400M in the area also known as the Machynlleth Loop or CAD West. These photos and video were captured at the “CAD East” viewing area across from CAD West.

Many local aviation photographers captured photos and video of the two passes. Among the best were shot by photographer Ben Collins of Llandudno, North Wales, UK.

Collins shot his photos using a Nikon D750 camera with an image-stabilized Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 DG OS HSM ‘S’ Sport zoom lens, a popular lens for aviation photographers used widely on the airshow circuit.

His original images were captured as RAW files. Collins is a regular at the famous Mach Loop, visiting the area between two and four times weekly when there is flying weather.

Aviation photographer Ben Collins shot his photos of the A400M from the popular vantage point called “Cad East”, a part of the Cad West lowing flying area loop.

Videographer Paul Williams shot a short YouTube video posted yesterday of the A400M’s transit through the area in perfect viewing conditions.

And here’s a cool video filmed by Ben Ramsey who got a great close-up footage!

The RAF A400M’s are relatively new aircraft in British service, with the first being delivered on November 14, 2014. The service will eventually employ 22 total A400M’s according to the RAF’s official website. The new Airbus A400M’s are staged replacements for the aging fleet of RAF C-130 aircraft.

The aircraft that flew through the Mach Loop today was likely aircraft number ZM411, an A400M-180 manufactured just before Aug. 26, 2016, and delivered to the Royal Air Force on Oct. 28, 2016.

There are three RAF squadrons operating A400M Atlas aircraft now, Squadron Number LXX, the first operational A400M squadron in the RAF that began operations on October 1, 2014. RAF Number XXIV Squadron flies the A400M from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, England. The Number 24 Squadron is the Fixed Wing Air Mobility Operation Conversion Unit and trains Atlas crews for the RAF. Finally the Number 206(R) Squadron fly the A400M as a test and evaluation unit.

The famous Mach Loop is a destination for aviation photographers and spotters from around the world since it provides a unique opportunity to photograph and observe many different aircraft types from several countries in an operational training setting that is very different from an airshow.

Image credit: Ben Collins

 

Airbus A400M airlifter crashes shortly after take off from Sevilla in Spain

An Airbus A400M aircraft crashed near Sevilla airport, in Spain, at 12:57 pm local time killing 4 crew members and injuring 2.

On May, 9, the Airbus A400M with the serial number MSN023, departed from Sevilla Airport at 12:45 pm local time for the first production flight crashed to the northwest of the airport.

Four of the six crew members, all Airbus Defence and Space employees of Spanish nationality, died in the incident. According to the last press release, the 2 remaining crew members are currently in hospital in a serious condition.

MSN023 was foreseen to be the third aircraft to be delivered to the Turkish Air Force, whose formal delivery was scheduled for June 2015.

The A400M, using callsign CASA423 was tracked by Flightradar24 via ADS-B: according to the charts posted after the incident, it reached a maximum speed of 173 kts at an altitude of 1,725 feet, then it started descending.

The last log, shows the plane has hit the ground at 167 knots with a vertical speed of about -3,000 feet per minute.

A400M crashed

Image credit: Flightradar24.com

 

China’s new Y-20 cargo plane (that looks like a C-17/A-400M hybrid) lands at Zhuhai, parks close to C-17

China-made airlifter (that looks like a C-17/A-400M hybrid) is one of the highlights of Zhuhai airshow.

The Stealthy J-31 “Falcon Eagle” is not the only highlight of the China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition: the Y-20 a brand new military cargo plane that made its maiden flight on Jan. 26, 2013 is also taking part in the Zhuhai airshow, which starts next week in China.

The Chinese airlifter arrived at Zhuhai from Xi’an Yanliang Airport at 11:54AM LT after a 3-hour flight, on Nov. 5.

The following video shows the Y-20 land at the end of its practice display and park in the apron reserved to the large aircraft, close to the Boeing C-17 of the UAE Air Force, supporting the Al Fursan display team.

The large military transport plane is a hybrid between the U.S. C-17, the Airbus A400M Atlas four-engine turboprop, and the nose section of the Antonov An-70; in July 2009, a former Boeing employee was convicted of selling secret C-17 technical details to China.

The image below lets you compare the shape of the two airlifters.

Comparison Y-20 C-17

Image credit: @AK630

 

Airbus A400M tactical airlifter makes combat debut in Mali

Released by the Armée de l’Air (French Air Force) these images show the Airbus A400M Atlas tactical airlifter during its first combat sortie in support to Operation Serval in Mali.

The Atlas “F-RBAB” carrying 22 tons of material, took off from Orléans-Bricy airbase on Dec. 29 at 10.30 LT and arrived at Bamako, Mali, after 6 hours and 40 minutes. On Dec. 31, the aircraft flew from Bamako to Gao.

The first A400M was taken on charge by the Multinational Entry into Service Team (MEST) at Orléans on Aug. 2, 2013.  The first operational mission therefore came only five months after the induction of the aircraft into active service.

Currently, two A400M Atlas are assigned to the MEST. The first operational mission is a step towards the type full operational capability of the type, expected in late 2014.

A400M Mali

Image credit: JL. Brunet / Armée de l’Air

 

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