Airbus has delivered the 20th next-generation Atlas A400M transport aircraft out of a total order for 22 to the Royal Air Force (RAF). The newly-delivered aircraft has formally entered service with the RAF and will soon commence crew training ahead of operational deployment.
The aircraft was handed over to the RAF at Brize Norton, home of the UK’s Air Mobility Force.
“The DE&S Atlas delivery team, based at MOD Abbey Wood and Brize Norton, is proud to be delivering the Atlas aircraft for the RAF which means the UK has a world-leading tactical and strategic airlift capability. We will continue to work hand-in-hand with Airbus and trials personnel to ensure that this fleet of world-leading aircraft is fully delivered and qualified for UK operations,” said Director Air Support for DE&S, Adrian Baguley.
The RAF is presently conducting crucial trials to test Atlas’s ability to deliver cargo by parachute and undergo air-to-air refuelling using a RAF Voyager aircraft.
The cargo delivery trial, carried out by a UK aircraft crewed by Air Warfare Centre and QinetiQ personnel, involved containers weighing around one tonne in weight being dropped in sequence over Salisbury Plain.
In a recent air-to-air refuelling trial, which took place near Seville in Spain an Airbus-owned Atlas, operated by a joint crew including Airbus and UK personnel, received fuel from an RAF Voyager tanker aircraft over a wide range of altitudes and air speeds.