The French Directorate General of Armaments (DGA) has taken delivery of the fifth A400M Atlas military transport aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space.
Designated as MSN12, the aircraft will be operated by the French Air Force, and joins the existing four A400Ms at Orleans-Bricy air base, located south-west of Paris, France.
The aircraft represents the sixth production A400M to be delivered to any customer, out of the 170 ordered by the programme's seven partner countries, including Germany, Belgium, Spain, France, Luxembourg, Turkey and the UK, in May 2003.
In addition to this, Malaysia placed orders for four aircraft in December 2005, becoming the only non-European customer of A400M.
The first four A400Ms were delivered to France, which had ordered 50 aircraft, while the Turkish Air Force received the fifth aircraft.
Dubbed Atlas in French service, the A400M is a multi-national military transport aircraft designed to serve as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities.
With a lifting capacity of up to 30t, the next-generation airlifter can also be configured to conduct long-range, inter and intra-theatre cargo and troop transport, medical evacuation, aerial refuelling and electronic surveillance missions.
The four EuroProp TP400-D6 turboprop engine-powered aircraft also features a six-wheel, high-flotation main landing gear, and short, soft, field landing and take-off capability, which is claimed to enable troop and equipment transportation to Mali or Afghanistan.
Deliveries of remaining A400M airlifters to the French Air Force are expected to be completed by 2025.
Image Link: The French Air Force's first A400M next-generation military airlifter in flight. Photo: © A. Doumenjou.