The fifth Airbus A400M delivered to the French Air Force flew its first real operational sorties the first week of October in support of Operation Barkhane, the combined name of the previous French operations Serval (Mali) and Epervier (Chad) and extended to cover all the former French colonies in the region that also include Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger. Barkhane’s primary target is to fight armed terrorists and rebel groups in the Sahel / Sahara Region.
Having completed 50 hours of flight, the A400M Atlas left French Airbase BA123 Orléans on 1 October with 3 pilots, 3 crew and 2 mechanics on board for N’Djamena in Chad. It made stop-overs in Istres, Niamey, Ouagadougou, Kinshasa and – on the return flight – in Brussels before returning home on 3 October. To Niamey it took 20 tons of cargo, to N’Djamena another 19 tons divided over 9 pallets.
Before the arrival of the A400M an Armée de l’Air’s C160 Transall would have done the job, but with a lesser load and a mission that would last 5 days in stead of three.