The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has received the third A400M Atlas aircraft from Airbus Defence and Space, adding capability to the country’s future air mobility requirements.
In November 2010, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) awarded a £2.8bn contract to Airbus for the delivery of 22 A400M military transport aircraft.
UK MoD Defence Materiel chief Sir Bernard Gray said: "Having now undertaken and completed thorough checks on the UK’s A400M aircraft, I am satisfied that we have fulfilled and allowed for the safe delivery of this third aircraft.
"This world-class aircraft will have an important role to fulfil with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the programme is at the forefront of modern technology and the RAF is looking forward to receiving its full order in due course."
The A400M is a multi-national military transport aircraft designed to serve as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities. It is powered by four EuroProp TP400-D6 turboprop engines.
The first two RAF’s A400M Atlas have already completed more than 405 flying hours, with the first aircraft, City of Bristol, expected to be ready for its first operational mission to Cyprus in March.
Operating from RAF Brize Norton, the aircraft is expected to offer significant contribution to the RAF’s air transport missions, by enabling the service to rapidly move people and equipment worldwide for military and humanitarian operations.
The aircraft are scheduled to replace its decommissioned fleet of C1/C3 (C-130K) Hercules transport aircraft in 2020. Prior to this, the A400M will be equipped with advanced capabilities over the next three years.
Image: The RAF’s A400M Atlas fleet will replace the C-130 Hercules when it goes out of service in 2022. Photo: courtesy of UK Ministry of Defence/ Crown copyright.