On Friday, October 9, 2020, as part of an operational trial, an A400M Atlas transport aircraft of the Air and Space Force transported for the first time a Griffon armored vehicle from the Djibouti to Orleans.
This was the first time that an A400M had loaded and transported a Griffon, the Army's flagship multi-role armored vehicle. Weighing 24.5 tonnes, and with outsized dimensions (7.58m x 2.54m x 3.50m), its missions are to support and transport combatants equipped with the FELIN weapons system as close as possible to combat areas. Carrying ten men, it has a strong ballistic protection capability and a remotely-operated turret with 12.7 mm machine gun and a GALIX grenade launcher system.
During a flight lasting approximately 7 hours, the crew, composed of three pilots and three flight engineers from the 61st Transport Wing (ET) and the Tactical Transport Aircraft (EM ATT) project team from Air Base 123 at Orleans, transported the vehicle.
The operation proved tricky, considering the sheer weight (20.8 tonnes for 37 tonnes of load capacity of the A400M Atlas) and the size of the Griffon. "When it came to loading the vehicle in terms of height, everything was a matter of a few centimeters," explains the captain. After a number of measures taken, a real reorganization of the methods of loading and unloading of the hold of the aircraft was necessary: a feat for the exercise of the profession of flight engineer. Major Gilles, loadmaster, said: “The aim of the experiment was to officially approve the air transport conditions for the Griffon given in advance by the General Directorate of Armament. "
Today, the A400M Atlas is the only air force aircraft capable of transporting the Griffon vehicle.
This successful joint experiment further increases the capabilities of the A400M Atlas. It is now capable of deploying and recovering Griffons on any airfield that it can access.