The very first Airbus A400M for the Royal Air Force reported for duty on Monday 17 November. The new tactical airlifter, christened Atlas C.1 in British service, flew from its birthplace in Seville, Spain, to Brize Norton airbase near Oxford in the UK, where it arrived – a pic is here – shortly after 14.00 hours local time. Following the flightpaths of France and Turkey, the UK is now the third operator of the A400M.
The aircraft is the first of 22 Atlas transporters for the RAF. They replace 24 Lockheed C-130J Hercules aircraft currently in operation at Brize Norton. From 2022 onwards, the UK airlift capality will consist of eight Boeing C-17A Globemasters , nine – plus five in reserve – Airbus MRTT refuelling and tranpsort aircraft, plus of course 22 A400M Atlas aircraft.
A lot has changed in the Royal Air Force airlift capability in just a one year timeframe. In September 2013, the Vickers VC-10 was retired. Just one month later, the good ol’ C-130K Hercules followed. In March this year, the Lockheed TriStar also said its good bye to the RAF.
With the introduction of the A400M, things are likely to quiet down a bit…. or not. Over the last week, the new Airbus airlifter was the focus of a lot of German critizism, with Airbus later on recogninzing development problems and delays. Meanwhile, the second Atlas for the RAF got its first taste of the sky on 23 October.
© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest