The French Air Force’s (ALAT) A400M new generation transport aircraft has performed unplanned landing trials on an airstrip at Vouziers-Sechault in north-eastern France.

During trials, which were carried out as part of a Nato certification process initiated by the 25th AGM, the aircraft successfully landed on the Vouziers airstrip without any navigational aids.

The runway was created and approved for use by the A400M by the 25th Air Engineer Regiment (25th Air Engineer Regiment) following establishment of a complete technical file, which included calculations of lift, and a study of the terrain and unloading area.

Conducted as part of a Franco-British exercise, the expeditionary manoeuvre was observed by representatives from the UK’s 12 Air Support Engineer Group, and follows a similar test at Gao in Mali, in December 2013.

Designated as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities, the A400M can also be configured to perform long-range cargo and troop transport, medical evacuation (MEDEVAC), and aerial refuelling and electronic surveillance missions.

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"The expeditionary manoeuvre was observed by representatives from the UK’s 12 Air Support Engineer Group."

Capable of carrying more than 100 fully equipped troops or a 30t payload, the aircraft features a six-wheel, high-flotation main landing gear, and short soft-field landing and takeoff capability, which is claimed to enable troop and equipment transportation to Mali or Afghanistan.

With 50 aircraft on contract, ALAT has to date received two aircraft from Airbus Military, whereas remaining deliveries are expected to be completed by 2025.

The four-EuroProp TP400-D6 turboprop engines powered aircraft has also been ordered by the air forces of Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, Malaysia and the UK.

Image: A French Air Force A400M aircraft lands at Vouziers-Séchault airstrip during its Nato certification trials. Photo: ©Armee de l’air.

Defence Technology