The Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation-Executive Administration (OCCAR-EA) has handed over the first A400M Atlas aircraft to the UK Royal Air Force (RAF).
22 A400M military transport aircrafts were ordered by the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) from Airbus Defence and Space in November 2010.
The aircraft is scheduled to operate from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, UK, offering significant contribution to the RAF’s air transport missions.
An undisclosed RAF spokesman was earlier quoted by DefenseNews as saying: "The MoD can confirm that the UK’s first A400M aircraft has been delivered to RAF Brize Norton to complete its acceptance process with Airbus UK, who are providing support for the UK fleet.
"The aircraft is being used to prepare the RAF’s flight crew training."
Specifically, the aircraft is being used by the RAF to train and familiarise flight crew ahead of a formal acceptance ceremony at the base later this month.
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The RAF will take delivery of an additional two aircraft by the end of this year. The aircraft are scheduled to replace the service’s decommissioned fleet of C1/C3 (C-130K) Hercules transport aircraft.
Powered by four EuroProp TP400-D6 turboprop engines, 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 latest delivery brings the total number of A400M’s in service to seven, with five aircraft already delivered to France and one to Turkey.
The aircraft has also been ordered by the air forces of Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain and Malaysia.
As well as coordinating the Atlas delivery, OCCAR-EA also signed a contract with Airbus to implement the integrated support solution that will enable the operations of initial UK A400M deliveries along with those of France in a collaborative manner, realising the benefits of spare pooling and cost-sharing between the two countries.
Image: OCCAR-EA delivered the first A400M Atlas aircraft to the UK Royal Air Force. Photo: courtesy of OCCAR.