The British Royal Air Force’s (RAF) A400M Atlas aircraft has carried out beach landing trials on Pembrey Sands beach in southern Wales.
The trials were conducted for the first time and involved 206 Squadron members and engineers front-line squadron LXX based at RAF Brize Norton.
During the trials, the Airbus-built turboprop military transport aircraft performed take-off, landing and taxiing manoeuvres. The test proved the aircraft’s tactical capabilities on a range of surfaces, including natural surfaces.
In addition, it allowed the military aircrew to practice and hone their skills in flying the tactical airlifter.
206 Squadron pilot flight lieutenant Cheng said: “The advanced flight deck of the A400M and cutting-edge fly by wire controls made this task easier to fly than other platforms. We are now looking forward to the challenge of conducting this operation using night vision goggles later in the trial.”
206 Squadron commanding officer wing commander Neil Philp added: “My specialist team has worked hard to deliver this trial and it has showcased the tremendous tactical potential of the A400M. Once this capability is handed over to the front line it has the potential to have a great impact on operations.”
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The RAF will receive a total of 22 A400M aircraft from Airbus, which are expected to be delivered to the service by the early 2020s.
The A400M Atlas is expected to complement RAF’s existing fleet of C-130J Hercules aircraft.
Last month, the aircraft dropped a record-breaking heavy cargo load of 23t by parachute over the Salisbury Plain in the UK.
The aircraft has a maximum range of 4,800nm and can perform tactical and strategic airlift missions, in addition to conducting air-to-air refuelling operations.