The Airbus A400M Atlas medium-range military transport aircraft is an international project. This aircraft was ordered by 10 countries. Its mayor operators will be Germany (60), France (50), Spain (27), United Kingdom (25) and Turkey (10). The A400M will replace a variety of aircraft, including Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules and TRANSALL C-160. The A400M made its maiden flight in 2009. First deliveries were expected in 2009, however these were postponed by delays. First production aircraft entered service in 2013. In the same year the French A400M saw action. It was used to deliver cargo during combat operation in Mali. First Airbus A400M was delivered to United Kingdom in 2014.
Advanced design of the Airbus A400M incorporates extensive use of composite materials.
The main role of this aircraft is troop and cargo transportation, as well as medical evacuation missions.
The Airbus A400M is powered by new generation high performance TP400-D6 turboprop engines. Each is rated at over 11 000 shp. These engines were developed by EuroProp International. Propeller blades are of composite construction. Turboprop engines were selected because of a number of advantages, such as cruise fuel efficiency and lower operating cost. Cruise speed of the A400M Atlas is almost as fast as turbofan powered transports.
This transport aircraft can carry up to 116 fully equipped troops or 66 stretchers and 25 medical attendants. The cargo hold can take nine standard military pallets. Two more can be loaded on the rear ramp. Simultaneously 54 troops can be seated in the side seats. This aircraft can drop simultaneously paratroops and cargo. The A400M can also carry tracked or wheeled vehicles, typically two 8×8 armored personnel carriers. Range at maximum payload is 3 300 km.
This military transport can take-off and land on soft semi-prepared airfields and requires relatively short runways. It was also design to operate with limited or no ground facilities.
The Airbus A400M can be rapidly converted into tactical in-flight refueling tanker role. A refueling system can be installed within two hours.