If only airplanes could sing, then the Royal Malaysian Air Force A400M Atlas fleet could now make a nice duet. The second of four ordered Airbus tactical airlifters was officially inaugurated into service at RMAF Base Subang on 13 January 2015 (check images of the ceremony here).
The aircraft departed the A400M production plant in Seville (Sevilla), Spain, on 27 December 2015 at 10:00 local time. It landed at Suban on 29 December 2015. The aircraft was transferred home by a Tentera Udara DiRaja Malaysia (or Royal Malaysian Air Force) crew of four pilots and four loadmasters.
RMAF 2 Squadron and 20 Squadron
The airlifters join the RMAF’s centrally located air force unit 2 Squadron focusing on VIP flights only with the Fokker F28-1000, the Dassault Falcon 900, the Bombardier Global Express 700, the Boeing 737-700 BBJ and the Airbus A319CJ; and 20 Squadron flying the C-130 Hercules at Subang (aka Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah) where also some smaller transport aircraft are located.
Airbus delivered a significant number of A400M military transport aircraft to costumers in December, bringing to an end a year marked by the fatal crash of an A400M in Seville on 9 May. The program seems to have overcome the tragedy however.
In December, Germany received both its second and third A400M, while France took delivery of its eight aircraft. Also, Turkey and Malaysia got their hands on their third and second aircraft respectively. The latter was handed over to the Royal Malaysian Air Force in Seville on Wednesday 23 December and will head East soon.
The year 2015 saw four deliveries to the Royal Air Force (RAF), who declared the A400M Atlas C1 ‘ready for worldwide tasks’ last September. Meanwhile, Airbus reports it is making progress in assembling the first aircraft for Spain.
The Turkish Air Force hopes to restart flight operations with its Airbus A400M Atlas tactical airlifters in January 2016. Not with the first two aircraft delivered, but with no. 3 only.
The third Atlas was handed over to the Türk Hava Kuvvetleri (THK) at the end of last week. The Turkish mechanics and experts are now going through loads of additional acceptance checks to assure it is ready to be officially fielded after the new year started.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) Airbus A400M fleet is ready for worldwide tasks, the UK Ministry of Defence announced on Tuesday 15 September. This In-Service Date (ISD) marks a milestone for the A400M, the prestigious Airbus transport aircraft that seemed in trouble only four months ago.
Four RAF A400M Atlas aircraft now operate from Brize Norton airbase near Oxford, with a further three now undergoing final work before being ready for service. Together, these aircraft are now ready for operations anywhere.
“Those flying the aircraft are gugely impressed with its capability”, UK Defence Minister Philip Dunne stated. That’s a major boost for the program, that suffered a distaster in May with the fatal crash of an A400M during a test flight in Seville, Spain.
The British enthusiasm contrasts with German reservation. Germany received its first A400M last year and since reported a lot of faults and delays with the introduction into service. The Germans still operate only one aircraft.
In the UK, a total of 22 A400M Atlas aircraft are to replace Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transporters at a cost of 160 billion GBP.
Germany becomes more and more worried about its airlift capacity. With the transfer from the aging Transall C.160 to the new Airbus A400M going far from good, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen now aims – more angry than before – her sights at the European aircraft manufacturer.
“Airbus has a serious problem with its understanding of product quality,” Mrs. Van der Leyen told prominent German weekly magazine Der Spiegel this weekend. “That Airbus announced there might be even more delivery delays hits us at a most inconvenient time.”
Germany has ordered 53 Airbus A400M, to be the core of its military airlift capacity. Only one has been delivered so far and German Air Force officials are said not to be happy with the quality of the product, which seems less than advertised or at least not meeting expectations. Key are problems in Airbus’s production of the plane, which does not seem to guarantee that the A400Ms live up to the specs. A similar problem has occurred with the Eurofighter EF2000, the meant-to-be core of the German Air Force combat fleet, in which Airbus is the major share holder (46%). Germany is even considering selling 13 A400Ms to level off the force to 40 due to financial constrains.
Like Germany Spain is considering reselling its ordered A400Ms. With none delivered so far plans call to only hold 14 of the 27 tactical airlifters on strength, but the first might come as late as 2017. Belgium (7) and Luxembourg (1) might not get their A400Ms before the end of this decade.