PARIS --- Florence Parly, Minister of the Armed Forces, welcomes the arrival of the 16th French A400M Atlas at the Orléans-Bricy Air Base on 4 December 2019, following its acceptance by the Directorate General of Armaments.
This is the first Atlas capable of parachuting a load of 16 tonnes and refueling other transport aircraft.
The 2019-2025 military program law provides for the delivery of 11 A400Ms, for a total of 25 aircraft in service at the end of 2025.
This 16th A400M is the first aircraft delivered to the Air Force that capable of dropping single loads of up to 16 tonnes. This new capacity is particularly useful to support troops deployed on foreign theaters of operation. For example, it allows dropping large equipment such as earthmovers or engineering vehicles, which are necessary to repair damaged airstrips.
This 16th A400M is also the first to be equipped with a complete refueling system: it is able to refuel not only fighter planes (Rafale, Mirage, etc) but also transport planes, like another A400M.
Over the course of deliveries, the new capabilities of the A400M increase the operational capabilities of French military air transport.
The tests successfully completed in 2019 by Airbus, with the assistance of the Directorate General of Armament (DGA) and the French Armed Forces, concern the simultaneous release of paratroopers through the side doors and the refueling of helicopters. The final certifications of these two key capabilities are now expected for 2020 and 2021 respectively.
A tactical military transport aircraft with a strategic range, the A400M Atlas has been operational since 2015 and allows the Air Force to carry out regular missions to all overseas operation theaters and overseas locations. It also played a key role during the 2017 airlift following hurricane "Irma." It is designed to carry up to 37 tons of equipment and carry out all transport missions, including assault landing on semi-prepared strips, parachuting personnel and equipment, in-flight refueling and medical evacuations.