The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has received the delivery of the 20th next-generation A400M Atlas military transport aircraft at the Brize Norton air station, the base for the air mobility force.
The delivery coincided with trials conducted to test the aircraft’s ability to deliver cargo by parachute in addition to undergoing air-to-air refuelling (AAR).
UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “From deploying troops to transporting armoured vehicles, the Atlas aircraft has played a global role in operations in the Middle East against Daesh and providing vital relief in the Caribbean.
“As we come closer to receiving the full fleet of aircraft, we can be proud of the role the Atlas has played in supporting the RAF lift-off into a new century of air power.”
The cargo delivery trial was conducted using containers weighing approximately 1t, which were dropped in sequence over Salisbury Plain.
The test was carried out by a UK aircraft that carried crew members from the RAF’s Air Warfare Centre along with other personnel from international defence technology company QinetiQ.
During the AAR trial performed near Seville, Spain, an Airbus A400M Atlas aircraft received fuel from a UK RAF Voyager tanker aircraft over a range of altitudes and speeds.
The new Atlas military transport aircraft has formally entered into service with the airforce and is ready to commence crew training before conducting operational deployment.
The international Atlas programme is supporting approximately 8,000 job opportunities in the country.
To date, the RAF has ordered 22 units of the Airbus Atlas aircraft that are expected to be delivered to the service by the early 2020s.