Jul 6, 2015
UK to begin testing national A400M capabilities shortly
Several dedicated national capabilities, such as UK parachutes and aerial delivery systems, that need to be cleared from a safety perspective will undergo testing at the end of July and continue through until March 2018, to clear their release to service.
The RAF is to roll out its A400M capabilities in a series of tranches, with Tranche 1 comprising basic strategic airlift (2015); Tranche 2 involving non-permissive operations and inter-theatre operations (from 2016), as well as deployable intra-theatre capability (from 2017); Tranche 3 will involve tactical transport, including airdrops (from late 2017); and Tranche 4 involving advanced capabilities and full support to the Airborne Assault Task Force (from 2018 to 2022).
The UK has so far received two of its 22 aircraft, with a further four undergoing pre-delivery trials at the company's final assembly line (FAL) in Seville, Spain. Initial operating capability (IOC) was due to be declared in March, but delays to initial deliveries had pushed this date back to September.
The RAF's 206 Squadron is currently testing the first A400Ms to arrive at RAF Brize Norton, with crews to be trained by 24 Squadron. Once trained, these personnel will be assigned to the first operational A400M unit: 70 Squadron. A second operational unit is due to be stood up in 2018.
Deliveries of all 22 A400M aircraft to the RAF are set to conclude in 2022, to coincide with the retirement of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules.