Airbus Defence and Space has successfully completed the maiden test flight of the UK Royal Air Force‘s (Raf) first A400M military transport aircraft.

Piloted by British test pilot Ed Strongman, the aircraft MSN15 took off from the company’s facility in Seville, Spain, and returned five hours and five minutes later.

Commenting on flight test, Strongman said: "It was very satisfying to conduct this first flight of the first A400M for the Royal Air force.

"I have no doubt that its combination of true tactical capability with strategic range will be an enormous contributor to future air mobility in the RAF."

The aircraft is scheduled to be handed over to the RAF by the month’s end, following completion of additional flight tests.

Around 22 A400M aircraft were ordered by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) from Airbus in November 2010, to help replace the RAF’s ageing C1/C3 (C-130K) Hercules transport aircraft fleet.

"Its combination of true tactical capability with strategic range will be an enormous contributor to future air mobility in the RAF."

The UK will receive four aircraft in 2014, while deliveries to RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire are scheduled for completion in mid-2018, as reported by Flightglobal.

Scheduled to be designated as Atlas in RAF 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 airlifter can also be configured to conduct long-range 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.

The aircraft has also been ordered by the air forces of Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Turkey, France, Spain and Malaysia.

Defence Technology