Category Archives: Airlift

Fourth and final A400M delivered to Malaysia

Airbus delivered the fourth and final Airbus A400M military transport aircraft to the Royal Malaysian Air Force on Thursday 9 March. The delivery comes exactly two years after delivery of the first A400M to Malaysia.

A Malaysian delegation formally accepted the fourth A400M at the Airbus production facility in Seville, Spain. The aircraft will soon head to Malaysia for participation in the LIMA airshow in Langkawi  in Malaysia, which kicks off on 21 March.

Meanwhile, A Royal Air Force A400M this week visited Indonesia during a round the world trip. Indonesia is said to be a potential customer for the A400M.

Warp speed for Brazilian freighter/tanker KC-390

Latin America’s most exciting aviation “thing” is moving up to WARP speed. The Embraer KC-390 is looking good, flying pre-operational testing missions with Brazilian Air Force (FAB) Northrop F-5Ms.

With the first in-flight refuelling mission and the first dry Wing Air Refuelling Pod (WARP) testing done last month, the Força Aérea Brasileira is understandingly anxious to get this new aircraft into its inventory.

In the near future the FAB’s combat aircraft can be refuelled in mid-air with 90 ft (30m) long refuelling hoses, bringing outposts of Brazil’s vast space within easier striking or air defence reach if ever necessary.

Into-tanker
The country’s long reach combat capability has been crippled ever since the country retired the final of its four KC-137s in October 2013. The two KC-130s that could be used for the in-flight refuelling task are in dire need of back-up – especially as they may have to be used for basic transport duty in crisis situations. Being able to equip the 28 production KC-390s on order with WARPs will give the FAB a very nice flexibility, that will be further beefed up by three refurbished-into-tanker KC-767s the country ordered with Israel Aerospace Industries.

First flight of the new KC-390 (Image © Embraer S.A.)
The new KC-390, seen here during its first flight. (Image © Embraer S.A.)

Fast jets scenario
As a freighter the KC-390 is already quite an ambitious project for Brazil’s own Embraer, making it the companies heaviest aircraft it ever made. Adding the tanker functionality doubles – or triples – the challenge. Key is not to have turbulence caused by the tanker to mess up the refuelling of the receiving aircraft behind it, and to find a operation speed that works both for the flight performance of the tanker as well as the thirsty fast jets in an operational scenario.

Test missions
Therefore Embraer has currently two test vehicles for in-flight airborne, with a third being added to the prototype fleet soon. Plans call for the final in-flight refuelling test to be done in November or December 2018, after which at least 2,000 flight hours have been made on these missions alone.

Orders & Versions
Likely to enter service in 2019, Embraer already chalked up orders for 28 KC-390s for the Brazilian Air Force. There’s furhter interest from Argentina,  Chile,  Colombia, the Czech Republic and Portugal, with the latter two already signing a Letter of Intent (LoI) for the purchase of two and six KC-390s respectively.

Also, the Royal New Zealand Air Force seems to be very interested to buy five aircraft. Moreover, the Brazilian Postal Service is thinking about buying 15 civilian versions.

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: WARP test of the KC-390 seen from a Brazilian Air Force F-5M cockpit (Image © Força Aérea Brasileira)

A400M remains a headache for Airbus

The A400M remains a troublesome program for Airbus, which presentend its annual financial figures on Wednesday 22 February. The company’s profits shrunk by 63 percent to 995 million EUR in 2016, largely caused by continued delays in A400M development  and production.

Last year, Airbus paid 2.2 billion EUR in charges over the delays, adding to charges worth billions of euros already paid in the past. Airbus is encountering fresh problems involving the A400M’s capability to carry and drop troops and military equipment.

The A400M is regarded as Europe’s largest defense program, with France, Germany, the UK, Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey buying the aircraft to expand their military airlift capability. Germany especially is unhappy customer, reportedly encountering many problems with its A400Ms. So far, Malaysia is the only non-European buyer, although Indonesia now appears to show interest also.

In 2016, Airbus delivered a total of 17 A400Ms, against 11 in 2015. The aircraft manufacturer says it is continuing with improvements in A400M development and production. The company also aims to reduce risks surrounding the program, and furthermore  seeks talks with customers to avoid growing charges.

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest
Featured image: The first Malaysian Air Force A400M in flight on 30 January 2015 (Image © Airbus)

Ukrainian legacy keeps small Russian wings airborne

Ignore Russia took control of the Crimean peninsula in 2014 for a few moments, ignore the ongoing fights in Ukraine’s eastern areas with Russian troop, intelligence and command & control involvement. The Russian military is still building its logistic strength on the legacy from the country it has been trying to destabilize for years. For its short-haul fixed-wing flights.

Designed and originally made by Antonov in Ukrainian Kiev, the new Antonov AN-140-100 turboprop aircraft is still finding its way to units of the Russian armed forces, be it in small numbers. The latest passenger and cargo aircraft of the type went to the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet, on 14 February this year.

How many officially are in service is hard to say. Moscow planned to have at least 20 operational, but after the conflict with Ukraine resulted in an industrial break-up between Antonov and the Russian partners, the air frames already in Russia are planned to be finished with solely Russian equipment. As far as our sources go, we estimate the number of operational AN-140-100s within the Russian armed forces to be between 8 and 14, but Moscow wishes for more. Russian Aviacor is believed to deliver at least six of the machines it had on its premises in various stages of unfinished construction.

The AN-140-100 is able to transport up to 52 people or about 19,000 lbs (about 8,500) of cargo (including fuel weight) over 2,290 miles (3,700 km) of distance. It can operate from unpaved airstrips, which makes it an ideal aircraft to operate in island rich environments where unprepared or short airstrips are common.

© 2017 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: Official release photo of the AN-140-100 like the one recently delivered to the Russian Navy’s Pacific Fleet (Image © Russian Ministry of Defence)

Indonesia eyes five Airbus A400M transporters

Indonesia is set to buy five Airbus A400M military airlift aircraft, worth 2 billion USD, according to reports on Thursday 19 January. If indeed true, that’s great news for Airbus and its somewhat troubled A400M program. 

Indonesia was already known to eye the A400M as a replacement and add on for C-130 Hercules aircraft. Indonesia in recent years purchased additional C-130s from Australia, one of which unfortunately was lost in crash in 2016.

The A400M is in service in six countries, being France, the UK, Germany, Turkey and Malaysia. Additionaly, Belgium and Luxembourg have ordered the type.

An order would be a very welcome boost for the A400M program, that suffered a fatal crash almost two years ago, plus some bad press in the German press in particular.