The first Airbus A400M airlifter ordered by the Royal Air Force has made its first flight. The aircraft, known as MSN15, took off from Seville, Spain, at 14:25 local time (GMT+1) on 30 August and landed back on site 5 hours and 5 minutes later. The aircraft is the first of 22 ordered by the UK and will be available for delivery by end September. In RAF service it will be known as the A400M Atlas, although Grizzly was initially expected.
The aircraft will be capable of carrying a load of 25 tonnes over a range of 2000nmls at speeds comparable with pure-jet military transports. It will be capable of operating either at low-level (down to 150ft agl) or at high-level altitudes to 40,000ft, and it will be able to deploy troops and/or equipment between and within theatres of operation either by parachute (up to 108 paratroopers), or by landing on short, unprepared or semi-prepared strips.
The cargo bay of the Atlas will be controlled by one air loadmaster and can be configured for a number of roles: pure troop carrying, or a mixture of troops and support equipment; palletised cargo or military wheeled and tracked vehicles; two attack helicopters such as the Apache or Puma; or a mixture of light and heavy engineering equipment.
Source: Airbus / RAF