The Airbus Military A400M military transport and air-to-air refuelling aircraft has passed another milestone in its flight test and development programme. The company revealed on Monday that, on November 4, the third prototype A400M, callsign Grizzly Three, dropped parachutists for the first time.
Dropping paratroopers is one of the main roles for the aircraft. In operational service, an A400M will be able to carry 116 fully-equipped paratroopers.
The trial involved six freefall paracutists, two each from the French armed forces, the Centre d’Essais en Vol (France’s world-renowned flight test centre) and the British armed forces. The paradropping mission was preceded by a flight in which the aircraft dropped balloons filled with water.
The parachutist drops were made at an altitude of about 2 000 m (6 000 ft) over the Fonsorbes drop zone near Toulouse in south-west France and were made in separate runs. Four of the parachutists jumped from the left-hand side door and two from the rear ramp. They reported that the A400M was easier to jump from than other transport aircraft.
After the dropping of the parachutists, Grizzly Three dropped a number of specially instrumented mannequins, using static lines (which open the parachutes automatically). The next round of parachute trials are scheduled for next year.
This was the latest in a recent string of good news for Airbus Military.
On November 5, the French Minister of Defence announced that the seven core European partner nations in the project had agreed on the deal to save the A400M programme.
This confirms the agreement in principle between the seven countries and the EADS group (which includes Airbus), in terms of which the countries collectively agreed to pay €2-billion more for the A400Ms they had ordered, and provide further funding of €1,5-billion (in return for a share in any export sales), while EADS would provide another €1,8-billion from its own resources.
And, in its Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR), released last month, the British government confirmed that the country would acquire 22 A400Ms, despite defence cuts.
Airbus Military emerged well from the decisions announced in the SDSR, as its other big programme for the UK, the A330 multirole tanker transport, was also confirmed.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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