Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has delivered its one-hundredth A400M aircraft with airframe number MSN111 to Zaragoza, where the Spanish Air Force houses its fleet of A400Ms.
The Spanish Air Force has now taken delivery of ten A400M aircraft.
In the same week, the A400M global fleet also achieved the 100 000 flight-hour landmark as a result of performing missions worldwide for all eight customer nations.
Airbus reports that the A400M family of aircraft successfully conducted a major helicopter air-to-air refuelling certification flight test campaign in coordination with the French Directorate General of Armaments, completing the majority of its certification objectives, including the first simultaneous refuelling of two helicopters.
The A400M is also able to deploy up to 116 paratroopers through simultaneous dispatch from its side doors with automatic parachute opening, or from the rear ramp with automatic parachute opening; as well as freefall paratroopers, during the day or night.
Recent tests were completed in Spain, in collaboration with the UK Royal Air Force parachute test team, to expand the A400M’s serviceable ceiling up to 25 000 ft, or 7 600 m, for automatic parachute opening, and up to 38 000 ft, or 11 582 m, for free fall.
The A400M also completed additional tests to expand its air drop capability, including multiple platforms with parachute extraction of loads up to 23 t, with France and Spain participating in these flights.
Further, the A400M was also certified to deliver cargo on austere airstrips without handling equipment with the combat offloading ability to drop up to 19 t of pallets in a single pass, or 25 t in two passes, on paved or unpaved airstrips.
Also, the A400M achieved a new decisive milestone after the certification flights of its automatic low-level flight capability for instrumental meteorological conditions by making use of navigation systems and terrain databases, without the need of a terrain-following radar.
Airbus states that this was a first-time achievement for a military transport aircraft, and serves to make the aircraft less detectable in hostile areas and thus less susceptible to threats while conducting operations in such environments.
In terms of collaborative missions, the Spanish Air Force recently supported the French Armée de l´Air (air force) in the transport of a Caracal helicopter from Cazaux, in France, to Tucson, in the US, using a Spanish Air Force-flagged A400M.
The flight was used by the Spanish Logistics Center for Armament and Experimentation and Air Transport Cargo Evaluation Cell to validate the loading process on Spanish A400Ms.
Meanwhile, key military missions in 2020 included the delivery of almost 40 t of food, water, fuel and ammunition by a single French A400M, to troops based in the Sahel region of Africa – the first time an A400M was used to airdrop supplies in a country outside of Europe.
In addition, Germany became the first A400M customer to use the aircraft as a tanker in real missions, providing support in the Counter Daesh operation in Jordan.
In both 2020 and this year, A400Ms have been used in civil emergency response roles during the Covid-19 pandemic, not least for civil medical evacuation duties.
During this time, Airbus also provided critical support for air force operators, as well as for transporting key medical relief supplies.
Airbus states that the versatility of the A400M enabled a rapid conversion to medical evacuation configuration, where installed critical care modules provided airborne intensive care units.