While the Ukrainian project of Antonov An-70 is still lacking funding, the European Airbus A400M Atlas is gaining momentum. As UK Ministry of Defence reported, the first of the UK’s A400M Atlas aircraft has been officially unveiled at its new home at Royal Air Force (RAF) Brize Norton.
The aircraft will replace the existing fleet of C-130 Hercules (http://usairforc.blogspot.ru/2014/11/c-130j-super-hercules.html). Manufactured by Airbus Defence & Space, A400M Atlas will represent major advances on its predecessor, capable of flying almost twice as fast, twice as far and carrying almost twice as much cargo. With a cargo capacity of 32 tonnes and a hold optimised for carriage of heavy vehicles, helicopters or cargo pallets, the aircraft is capable of supporting a wide range of operational scenarios.
The UK is the third country to operate the aircraft, after France and Turkey and the £2.8 billion programme will see a total of 22 aircraft delivered to the RAF in the coming years, as it was reported by defense-aerospace.com.
The A400M has been rigorously designed to meet the equipment transport needs of modern armed forces. The A400M can perform missions, which previously required two – or more – different types of aircraft, and which even then provided an imperfect solution. Its fuselage external width of 5.64 metres/18 ft 6 in is equal to that of the A330/A340 wide-body. Its cargo hold has an inside usable width of 4 metres/13ft, height of up to 4 metres/13ft, and usable length of 17.71 metres/58 ft.
Extensive use of advanced 3D computational fluid dynamics tools optimised the wing shape, resulting in a low drag design and thus a high speed cruise of Mach 0.72, without compromising low speed performance and handling.
With a maximum payload of up to 37 tonnes (81 600 lb) and a volume of 340 m3 (12 000 ft3), the A400M can carry numerous pieces of outsize cargo including, vehicles and helicopters that are too large or too heavy for previous generation tactical airlifters, for example, an NH90 or a CH-47 Chinook (http://usgroundforces. blogspot.ru/2014/11/ch-47-chinook.html) helicopter, or two heavy armoured vehicles for military purposes. It can also carry a heavy logistic truck, or a rescue boat, or large lifting devices, such as excavators or mobile cranes needed to assist in disaster relief.
The A400M is able to land on, and take-off from, any short, soft and rough unprepared CBR 6 airstrip, no longer than 750 m/2,500 ft, while delivering up to 25 tonnes/55,000 lb of payload, and with enough fuel on board for a 930 km/500 nm return trip. In addition to offering optimised support to deployed military operating bases, these characteristics also allow it to ensure that swift humanitarian aid can be deployed direct to a disaster region.
The A400M can also easily and swiftly be adapted to become a Tanker, if required in a military operation. Air-to-Air Refuelling can be done either through two wing mounted hose and drogue under-wing refuelling pods or through a centre-line fuselage refuelling unit (FRU). Its built-in air-to-air refuelling capability allows it to be rapidly re-configured to become a tanker. With hard points, fuel lines and electrical connections already built into the wings, it takes under two hours to convert the A400M from an airlifter into a two-point tanker aircraft.
The A400M excels in the airdrop role, being able to drop from both high and low altitudes, (as high as 40,000 ft for special forces’ operations, and as low as 15ft for low level load deliveries). With the new A400M, which can carry more paratroopers than other Western-built military transport, Airbus Military is setting new standards in paradropping operations.
Overall Length 45.10 m 148 ft
Overall Height 14.70 m 48 ft
Wing Span 42.40 m 139 ft
Cargo Hold Length (ramp excluded) 17.71 m 58 ft
Cargo Hold Height 3.85-4.00 m 12 ft 7 in-13 ft
Cargo Hold Width 4.00 m 13 ft
Cargo Hold Volume 340 m3 12 000 ft3
Maximum Take Off Weight 141 000 kg 310 850 lb
Maximum Landing Weight 123 000 kg 271 200 lb
Internal Fuel Weight 50 500 kg 111 300 lb
Maximum Payload 37 000 kg 81 600 lb
EuroProp International TP400-D6 11 000 shp 8200 kW
Maximum Operating Altitude 40 000 ft 12 200 m
Maximum Cruise Speed (TAS) 300 kt 555 km/h
Cruise Speed Range 0.68-0.72 M
Maximum Payload (37 000 kg – 81 600 lb) 1780 nm 3300 km
Range with 30 000 kg (66 000 lb) Payload 2450 nm 4500 km
Range with 20 000 kg (44 000 lb) Payload 3450 nm 6400 km
Maximum Range (Ferry) 4700 nm 8700 km
Total orders 174
Total deliveries 6
Total in operation 6
Number of customers-operators 8
Number of current operators 2
Number of countries 8
France Orders – 50, Deliveries – 5, In operation – 5
Germany Orders – 53
Malaysia Orders – 4
Spain Orders – 27
Turkey Orders – 10, Deliveries – 1, In operation – 1
UK Orders – 22, Deliveries – 1