The A400M Atlas Goes to Mali

The French Air Force has flown its first operational sortie with A400M Atlas in support of Operation Serval in Mali

The Multinational Entry Into Service Team has flown the A400M from Orlean to Bamako carrying 22 tonnes of cargo, compared to 9 tonnes for a C130 on the same journey. The 4,000km journey took just under 7 hours

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Read more

http://www.defense.gouv.fr/content/download/230392/2568945/file/DP%20D%C3%A9placement%20MINDEF%20Mali%20F%C3%AAtes%202013.pdf

H/T Steak Sauce @ MP.net

21 Comments
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TED
TED
January 1, 2014 8:19 pm

I know its only a PR stunt but it does signal the A400 is nearly here in fact its meant to be this year isn’t it.

Challenger
Challenger
January 2, 2014 2:01 am

22 to be delivered to the RAF over 7 years, so 3 a year basically!

Looks good and I’m sure it will be a great lifter but that doesn’t get us away from how delayed and expensive the thing is.

The Flightglobal article says the UK still has an option for the extra 3 of our initial 25 air-frame plan, what exactly does that mean? Simply that production schedules and order books would still accommodate them or it’s some kind of specifically contracted possibility?

Martin
Editor
January 2, 2014 4:21 am

I know its a PR gimmick but the A400M is going to solve so many problems I can’t wait to see them in service. Strategic or near strategic lift capability will be vital for nations like France and its AAR capability should enhance Europe’s ability to fight air campaigns. That is assuming our EU ‘partners’ actually buy their committed numbers and buy some AAR kits.

El Thommo
El Thommo
January 2, 2014 5:56 am

May be the Overseas aid budget would purchase the additional three offered

dave haine
dave haine
January 2, 2014 9:14 am

@ Challenger
It just means that production slots have been allocated- just before airbus need to start ordering long lead items, we’ll be asked to confirm or relinquish the order.

wf
wf
January 2, 2014 9:53 am

: although I’d agree that acquisition of capabilities is a pointer for defence strategy, “Europe” has rather more pressing issues to fix with regard to fighting campaigns, air-based or otherwise. I would suggest even a no-fly zone against negligible opposition is unattainable given the EU’s complete inability to demonstrate a “national” will. Libya had the biggest country opposed for example…

Mark
Mark
January 2, 2014 10:12 am

Challenger

Not quite 3 a year. This schedule maybe subject to change! You never know we may get one or two early.

http://media.defenceindustrydaily.com/images/PUB_A400M_Delivery_Schedule_2012_lg.jpg

Pr value yep definitely but this is a French Air Force operational aircraft that was delivered last year.

TED
TED
January 2, 2014 11:42 am

@TD cheers

@Mark I appreciate its an operational aircraft but I don’t think its exactly combat ready and I imagine there was a fair amount of influence down from airbus.

Nice to hear we are getting roughly 3 a year does that mean we will have 2 by this time this year?

Mark
Mark
January 2, 2014 12:10 pm

Ted

Depends what you mean by combat ready if that mean take over all the hercules tasks no they can do that yet. These aircraft should be a soc1 which means they can do equivalent missions to the uks c17 with limits on the threat environment. Soc 1.5 is what uk aircraft will arrive with this year which is full das and aerial delivery (subject to uk specific requirements). Then Soc 2 in 2015 for full tactical missions. They will end up at soc3 which is full capability to include tactical low level flying for german sf in 2017.

Martin
Editor
January 2, 2014 12:40 pm

@ wf

I agree Europe has more issues than just AAR and strategic lift but it has to start somewhere and A400M if manged properly is a big step in the right direction. That being said I would not be suprised if half of them end up in storage or being sold on for pennies let alone buying the AAR kits. But one can only hope our friends across the channel sort out their s**t and start pulling their weight.

I think the European NATO members could handle policing of a no fly zone but certainly lack the capability to establish one as in Libya. Their is a suvere lack of SEAD capability. However with the UK and France adding more ability to deliver cruise missiles and the F35 coming into European airforces this may not always be the case.

Topman
Topman
January 2, 2014 12:57 pm

More fleets within fleets ;)

More seriously have Airbus done much with a view to upgrading them to soc3? Is it fairly simple and a plan in place from the beginning? Any chance of a quick rundown of the differences between them?

Mark
Mark
January 2, 2014 1:34 pm

Topman

All will be brought up to the final configuration is just being phased in to easy development so hopefully not fleets within fleets for too long. End of soc 1.5, Soc 2 is being cleared now on the test fleet. Soc 1.5 is hardware changes on avionics and das and will be done at airbus for any aircraft not leaving the fal at that spec. Software loads for soc 2 at main base this is essentially the current standard herc capability with tanker ability. It escapes me what supposed to happen for soc 3 but its a few years away yet may not be fleet wide. RAF has selected a different DAS to standard I believe so will need to clear that themselves.

Nicky
Nicky
January 2, 2014 9:23 pm

This is why a C-17 is way better than an A-400M

TED
TED
January 2, 2014 9:53 pm

what does?

Derek
Derek
January 3, 2014 12:58 am

I can’t help but think “thats great, but C-17 has been doing that for nearly 20 years”

A400M is instructive, as is NH90, Tiger and Typhoon. All these programmes have their origins in the 80s, all were/are massively delayed and way over budget. Since then Europe has not really embarked on any major collaborative programme that could be described as successful and there is no backlog of new projects. For instance- A400M production ends in 2024- only ten years away, the supply chain will start winding up much earlier, then what? It’s the same with the Typhoon line.

Finally, the UK’s three options are a product of the last effort to stabilise the programme. The UK fixed it’s A400M budget and refused to add any additional money as the price escalated so reduced the planned buy from 25 to 22 with the last three being retained as options to give Airbus a fig leaf and the UK a mirage of flexibility. They will almost certainly never be ordered.

Topman
Topman
January 3, 2014 9:05 am

@ Mark

Thanks for that. Sounds like it shouldn’t be too much of a drama to standardide the whole fleet.

TED
TED
January 3, 2014 10:34 am

Well its the largest transport aircraft the french have isnt it, so it is like voyager landing for the first time in afghan. Vc10s, tristars and hercs were doing it for years. As well as civi aircraft. I’m sure there were just as many press releases when the C17 first landed in a hostile environment.

C17 seems to have had multiple problems during its development. If you look at the time period from first flight to introduction the two are reasonably close. The requirement for C17 was drawn up in the 70s. Then you have what I believe is the main problem in that with collaborations there is a lot of time spent signing the contract. So my first hypothesis is are collaborations the thing that slow down these projects.

The americans used to benefit from a huge budget using which 1 service could say ‘I want something to solve this problem and I want it in x years.’ If you look at F35 which is often described as late and over budget even on the American side there are 3 services that all want different things and then loads of different countries.

My question is what is slowing projects down. I know Europe has a bad record for this but is that because we have been collaborating for longer. Just something for you guys to chew over. Also for the Anoraks out there when was the last procurement we had that came in on time and on budget? If thats too easy what about an aviation porcurement?

Simon257
Simon257
January 3, 2014 11:32 am

Some delay to the A400M programme cam be laid firmly at the door of the A380. As the problems with the A380 meant that Airbus was forced to move personnel from the A400M project to the A380 team to get it back on track. Thus causing a slow down in development of the A400M. For Airbus the A380 is far more important than the A400M.

McZ
McZ
January 3, 2014 2:21 pm

I find it hard to not view at the A400M-program as just another fuck-up.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A400M#Orders

178 aircraft, of which 26 are already in search for a buyer, and with the French economy in shambles, I really don’t know how they plan to buy 50 aircraft. Combined with a planned capacity of around 30 C-17 over the next three years, this creates a contested market of nearly 60-70 aircraft, with no buyer in sight. Optimistically, a buyers market, which should drive down prices, but not production cost. Pessimistically, the KC-390 will wipe the floor with the Atlas.

The whole rationale behind the A400M was to get a competitive airlifter both in prices and capability. Airbus seemed to be the ideal choice. Now, the program adds a yearly cost increase of € 1 – 1.5b, to be financed through increasing prices or diminishing profits across the board. Add the equally disastrous NH-90 and Tiger helicopters, you can firmly double this number.

This is exactly, what Tom Enders of EADS stated in his speech regarding the latest job losses: too few contracts, too expensive products.

@TED
“Also for the Anoraks out there when was the last procurement we had that came in on time and on budget? If thats too easy what about an aviation porcurement?”

Sentinel R1, I guess.

Derek
Derek
January 3, 2014 5:35 pm

McZ,

I find it strange that your post has been voted down given that what you say is entirely true. I would go further, under current plans it looks like Typhoon production will be over by 2018 (the Malaysian requirement is reported to have been put on the back-burner too), NH-90 by 2022 and A400M by 2024. With no European development programmes underway things look very bleak indeed.