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.
During the annual Saab Gripen seminar, which was held on Thursday 17 March, Ulf Nilsson, head of Saab business area Aeronautics, and Richard Smith, head of Gripen marketing and sale, gave an update on the status on various developments on the Gripen.
At this moment, manufacturing of the first Gripen E prototype is still on schedule and within budget, as the aircraft is in final assembly now. Roll out is planned to take place at 18 May this year. This protoype will be used as test aircraft, so test equipment will be installed in it.
Competitions and tenders
At this moment, SAAB is involved in different competitions and tenders to market the Gripen system. Smith stated the Gripen has been offered to Croatia and Bulgaria as replacement of eageing eastern type of fighter aircraft. Negotiations started with Slovakia for delivery of 8 Gripens to replace the MiG-29 Fulcrum aircraft, which are reaching the end of their service life. Finland is looking for new aircraft as replacement for the F-18 Hornet, in which SAAB participates in a tender for 40 Gripen E/F aircraft. Belgium still has to decide what will be the successor of the F-16’s, and the Gripen will take part in the tender for 30-36 frames. In the Asian Pacific market, SAAB started the negotiating process with Malaysia, and they’re even confident the Gripen has in chance in Indonesia. Further more, SAAB stll has a focuss on India, as the Swedish and Indian Prime ministers met in India recently. In the Americas-region Colombia got marketing info about the Gripen system.
Currently, there are 50 Brazilian engineers in Linköping, Sweden, who are being trained to learn the maintenance and development tools of the Gripen and the program. In April the next group will arrive in Sweden, and finally it is expected some 350 Brazilians have found there way to Linköping. SAAB and Embraer are building a new test and engineering center at Embraer’s industrial plant in Gavião Peixoto, Brazil. This will support the operations of the Brazilian Air Force Gripen aircraft.
SAAB expects to sell 400 aircraft in the next 20 years, with a backlog of 96 aircraft at the moment (60 Gripen E’s for Sweden and 36 for Brazil). At this moment the Gripen is already in service with the Swedish military, as well as in Thailand, South Africa, Czech Republic and Hungary.
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.
Dassault’s Rafale is making some progress in Asia if recent news reports are anything to go by. The French airplane manufacturer has offered the 4.5th generation fighter jet to Malaysia as a replacement for MiG-29 Fulcrums, while negotiations for the purchase of 36 Rafales by India are said to be nearly complete.
Malaysia earlier this year said it keeps it MiG-29s flying for longer, but the French offer seems to be aimed at changing the minds in Kuala Lumpur. However, it could also be aimed a giving the final push for the Indian deal. In April this year, India announced it would buy 36 Rafales ‘in fly-away condition’, but negotiations have since been a struggle. Talks are now said to be in the final stages, although it has to be said a lot of misinformation has surrounded the Indian Rafale deal from the very start.
Indian intentions of buying even more Rafales were earlier this year reported as ‘of the table’.