In 2001, Belgium and six other countries signed a contract with Airbus for the development and acquisition of new transport aircraft. Our country ordered seven A400Ms to replace its C-130s, in service since the early 1970s. The A400Ms for Belgium and Luxembourg will be delivered between 2020 and 2023.
In 2013, the first A400M was delivered to France. More than 60 aircraft have entered service since then. The first operational deployments of the A400M in the Caribbean and Iraq have demonstrated that the aircraft has fully achieved its objectives: to increase cargo capacity and range compared to the C-130.
The different components of the airplane are produced on different sites. The fuselage is built in Bremen in Germany and Ankara in Turkey, the wings in Filton in the United Kingdom, the nose in Saint-Nazaire in France and the empennage in Stade, Germany.
The engine components are also produced in various locations before being assembled and tested in Munich, Germany.
Belgium also plays a role in the production chain with the manufacture of certain parts, such as the wing leading edges and the landing gear doors. Everything then converges on the final assembly site in Seville, Spain. Some 24 months elapse between the production of the first parts and the delivery of the aircraft to the customer.
In its final configuration, the A400M will play an important role in the capability of European military air transport. 15 Wing Air Transport will operate our aircraft as well as the single Luxembourg aircraft from Melsbroek air base.