The French Air Force (ALAT) has taken delivery of the first A400M transport aircraft from Airbus Military, four years behind its original schedule.
Designated MSN7, the new generation aircraft has been authorised by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) to join the Orleans-Bricy airbase in France, for future operations by the national air force.
The delivery follows receipt of Type Acceptance at the contractual Initial Operating Clearance (IOC) Standard from the Organisation Conjointe De Coopération En Matière D’armement (OCCAR) on 31 July.
Airbus Military CEO Domingo Urena Raso said: "Today is a truly historic day for the European aerospace industry – marking the moment at which it becomes the new global leader in the military transport sector with an entirely new aircraft.”
The newly delivered aircraft is initially scheduled to be used for the continued training of aircrew prior to becoming part of ALAT’s operational transport fleet.
Dubbed Atlas in French service, the A400M is designated as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities and can also be configured to perform long-range cargo and troop transport, medical evacuation, aerial refuelling and electronic surveillance missions.
Capable of carrying more than 100 fully equipped troops or a 30t payload, the aircraft is powered by four EuroProp TP400 turboprop engines, and features a six-wheel, high-flotation main landing gear, and short soft field landing and takeoff capability, enabling troop and equipment transportation to Mali or Afghanistan.
With a total of 50 aircraft on contract, the French Air Force is also set to receive an additional two aircraft by the end of this year, whereas remaining deliveries are expected to be completed by 2025.
The aircraft has also been ordered by the air forces of Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, Malaysia and the UK.
Image: French Air Force’s first A400M aircraft during its maiden test flight in Seville, Spain. Photo: courtesy of Airbus Military.