The first of seven Airbus A400M transport aircraft of the Belgian Army’s Air Component completed its ferry flight from the final assembly line in Seville, Spain, to the 15th Transport Wing in Melsbroek, where the aircraft will be based.
The A400M, serial number MSN106, will be operated within a binational unit made up of eight aircraft, seven from the Belgian Army and one from the Luxembourg Armed Forces. Belgium will be in charge of logistical support and joint training of crews, including six Luxembourgian pilots and six technicians. On October 6, 2020, the Luxembourg Army Air Force took delivery of its Airbus A400M military aircraft
“Despite challenges due to COVID-19, our teams have achieved all 10 aircraft deliveries scheduled this year, bringing the global fleet in operation to 98 aircraft,” commented Alberto Gutiérrez, Head of Military Aircraft at Airbus Defence and Space.
The A400M is a military transport aircraft designed by Airbus Defence and Space. It entered service in 2013, and is offered as a successor for older transporters such as the C-130 Hercules or the C-160 Transall. It is capable of transporting up to 37 tonnes of cargo or 116 soldiers with their equipment over 4,500 kilometers.
In 2020, the aircraft showed the extent of its capabilities as it was deployed by several European countries to help with the COVID-19 relief effort. The MEROPE kit, a module specifically conceived for the A400M, can accommodate up to four patients and twenty caregivers. It allows permanent oxygenation and monitoring of patients, and if needed, in-flight medical resuscitation.
Additionally, 2020 was the year when the A400M hit several milestones. In May 2020, the airlifter completed the certification flight test for the simultaneous dispatch of 116 paratroopers (58 from each of the side doors) on a single pass. In October 2020, the A400M Atlas was able to carry, for the first time, a VBMR Griffon, the brand new armored vehicle acquired by the French and the Belgian Armed Forces.