Belgium received delivery of a final A400M military transport vessel on 20 February, the last aircraft in a series of eight procured for the Belgian and Luxembourg Air Forces.

Minister’s of Defence for Belgium and Luxembourg, Ludivine Dedonder and Yuriko Backes, highlighted the nations’ close cooperation on the project that provided seven aircraft to Belgium and one for Luxembourg. 

At an event at Melsbroek Airbase to welcome the final delivery, the ministers went on to highlight the multirole capabilities of the A400M.

Belgium represented the interests of Luxembourg in the 6-Nation OCCAR programme that oversaw procurement of the A400M aircraft. Of the eight aircraft included in the order, which began delivery in November 2023, seven units were delivered to the Belgian Air Component and one unit to the Luxembourg Army Air Component.

The A400M is manufactured by Airbus Defence and Space, a division of the European aerospace and defence firm Airbus. Other companies with a share in the programme include BAE Systems, EADS, Flabel, and Tusas Aerospace Industries.

Originally called the Future Large Aircraft Programme, metal for the first A400M was cut in January 2005, with assembly beginning in 2007. The aircraft has a maximum payload of 37 tonnes, giving it a much larger payload than either the C-160 Transall (16 tonnes) or the C-130 (20 tonnes). 

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The A400M is valued for its capability to make short, soft filed landings and take-offs, giving her airframe an operational flexibility in its main role as a military cargo transport.

The cargo bay can transport up to nine standard military pallets, including two on the ramp, as well as 58 troops seated along the sides, or up to 120 fully equipped troops seated in four rows. 

The A400M can carry 116 paratroops and airdrop them and their equipment by parachute. For Medevac, it can carry up to 66 stretchers and 25 medical personnel.