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  • Writer's pictureCornelius Kwok


Updated: May 18, 2023


The Airbus A400M, also known as “Atlas” is the most advanced, proven, and certified tactical airlifter in the market, utilizing state-of-the-art technologies to meet the current and upcoming needs of the military. The Airbus A400M can carry strategic loads while delivering into tactical locations with small airstrips as well as performing as a frontline tanker; A single aircraft that can do the work of three.

Airbus Defence & Space offers a broad and complementary portfolio for military aircraft – The Airbus C295 and Airbus A400M, designed for unpaved runways and operations in hostile environments and the Airbus A330MRTT, designed for paved runways and in semi-permissive environments.

The Airbus A400M, designed in May 2003, is designed to meet the combined needs of 7 European nations regrouped within OCCAR, along with Malaysia, which joined in 2005. The Airbus A400M is assembled in Spain; the wings are produced in the United Kingdom, while the fuselage is made in Germany.

Tactical Capabilities

Airlifters of an earlier generation perform well tactically, but cannot handle outsized military and humanitarian loads due to their small cargo holds. At present, strategic aircraft are capable of transporting large loads, but they are expensive and have limited tactical capabilities as they cannot operate from soft fields. The Airbus A400M is a modern, versatile, and larger aircraft specifically designed for today’s and tomorrow’s needs. The Airbus A400M fills the current gap in logistics and tactical capability thanks to its excellent tactical performance and ability to carry overweight loads over long distances. Having a cockpit at the front of the fuselage, most of the aircraft’s interior space is designated for cargo; the cargo hold features a usable width of 4m, height of up to 4m, and length of up to 17.7m

Strategic Capabilities

The Airbus A400M is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including four TP 400 Turboprop engines from EuroPro International, and can fly up to 8900km at a cruising altitude of 37,000ft and a speed of M0.72, very similar to that of a turbofan-powered airlifter. During special operations, it can fly as high as 40,000ft.

This allows the Airbus A400M to be deployed for special logistic or strategic missions. With faster flight speed, the Airbus A400M can respond more rapidly to crises since it can cover more distance in one crew day. The aircraft can also avoid weather and turbulence at lower altitudes due to its higher flying ability, which means less fatigue for crew members, passengers, and troops.

High Payload and Cargo

The Airbus A400M can carry large cargo with a maximum payload of up to 37,000kg, and a volume not exceeding 340-meter cube, including large aircraft and helicopters too big and too heavy for preceding generations of tactical aircraft, for example, a CH-47 Chinook helicopter or heavy infantry fighting vehicles. Additionally, it can transport heavy logistic vehicles, rescue boats, and large lifting equipment, such as excavators and mobile cranes, needed during disaster relief missions.

Short Unpaved Airstrip Performance

In addition to being able to carry outsize and heavy equipment straight to the point of need, the Airbus A400M can land virtually anywhere. With the Airbus A400M, operatives can take advantage of difficult airfield conditions, such as unpaved airstrips, short runways, and little space for parking and maneuvering – conditions that would impede any kind of tactical airlifter. This aircraft can land on and take off from virtually any short, soft, and rough unprepared airstrip under 750m and carry up to 25 tonnes of cargo with enough fuel for a 930km roundtrip flight.

Autonomous Ground Operations

Its autonomous capabilities enable the Airbus A400M to fly from remote airstrips in austere locations. The Airbus A400M reduces its vulnerability to hostile action by minimizing its time on the ground by utilizing contemporary digital load master work stations to monitor and manage all cargo handling operations. A single operator can easily turn rollers upside down by hand, allowing either flat floor or pallet configurations to be achieved by putting the rollers down instead of up. When the ramp is deployed on the ground, the main landing gear can be kneeled to adjust the height between the cargo floor and the ground and reduce the crest angle formed between the ramp and cargo floor for easy loading.

The mixture of tactical and strategic capabilities of the Airbus A400M has proven more powerful, faster, better altitude, payload, and tactical performance than previous generation tactical aircraft, enabling its deployment at the time of need, such as near a natural disaster or a theatre of operations that cannot support strategic airlifters.



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