French Airbus A400M Atlas reaches initial operational capability

French Air and Space Force

The Airbus A400M Atlas transport aircraft of the French Air and Space Force has reached initial tactical capability on June 3, 2021. It is the last milestone for the aircraft before its full operational capacity is declared.

“The third capability milestone to be crossed, it formalizes the ability to deploy the Atlas during long-term operations to carry out intra-theater liaison and air-drop missions in a potentially contested environment, with all the associated ecosystem,” the French Air Force declared.

Among the competencies that were tested, the A400M was declared capable of landing on rough terrains of all kinds. The Air and Space Force is now “able to transport, on laterite runways less than 1,500 m long, combat vehicles weighing more than 24 tonnes, day and night, using night vision binoculars if necessary.”

The Atlas also showed itself capable of carrying out gravity drops, with up to 25 tonnes of material deliverable in one go. The first operational air delivery took place on September 18, 2019, on a theater of operations in the Saharan-Sahelian region as part of Operation Barkhane.

Finally, its self-protection system against infrared-guided missile-type threats was also declared competent.

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. 

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