206 Squadron, supported by 70 Squadron engineers, have been practicing beach landing with an A400M Atlas aircraft in Southern Wales, say the Royal Air Force.

According to a release, beaches are routinely used by the RAF for training operations with other tactical airlifters.

“The A400M showcased its superb tactical capabilities on natural surfaces by performing take-off, landing and taxiing manoeuvres.”

Flight Lieutenant Cheng, a 206 Squadron Pilot, said:

“The advanced flight deck of the A400M and cutting-edge fly by wire controls made this task easier to fly than other platforms. We are now looking forward to the challenge of conducting this operation using night vision goggles later in the trial.”

Wing Commander Neil Philp, Officer Commanding 206 Squadron, said:

“My specialist team has worked hard to deliver this trial and it has showcased the tremendous tactical potential of the A400M. Once this capability is handed over to the front line it has the potential to have a great impact on operations.”

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That would be class to watch.

Evan P

We had training for the Nijmegen marches where we went along that beach sadly the day before it landed, as you say it would have been brilliant.


Indeed BB85 but beach landing! Must be a perilous excercise! When loaded the point weight on the wheels must be huge. Forgive my ignorance but how do they stop her sinking in the sand?

Cam Hunter

Great video, explained allot. Thanks??


Have you noticed in the videos that the plane never actually fully lands, it touches down and then takes straight off again. Kinda strange test, you would think they would want to fully land, so they can unload it.

Daniele Mandelli

Pendine I presume.

Byron Potter

Could be Pembrey, MOD have a facility there

Byron Potter

Could be Pembrey, MOD have a facility thetr

Chris J

Yep it is, I used to live and work in Pendine, it was a joy to watch these big birds coming in and out. This testing happens far up the beach in the out of bounds area near the QinetiQ facilities. Occasionally the pilots would fly all the way down the beach at very low level. Watching the C-17s do this testing was a joy.


A C17 has actually landed on Pendine beach? Must have been one hell of a sight!!!

Chris J

Yeah it was, they make a Herc look small…

Chris J


The videos are both taken at Pembrey Sands, literally a couple of miles away as the crow flies. They used to conduct beach landings at Pendine but apparently this has all moved to the range at Pembrey now.

Chris J

You can tell by the tower in the background. The tower at Pendine is concrete grey, the one at Pembrey is black and yellow.

Daniele Mandelli

Good info thanks Chris.

Is Pembrey still in use as an weapons range?

Chris J

Yes, Pembrey is still an active range as far as I’m aware. The DIO operate it as the Pembrey Sands Air Weapons Range. I grew up in the area, we used to sit on top of Llanstephan castle to watch the bombing runs on the range. We used to see all manner of aircraft, including American aircraft like F15s out of Lakenheath. Loud buggers they were. The REF used to conduct low level training all aroubd the area. Carmarthen golf course was interesting because there were certain holes where you could literally wave DOWN on the pilots in the valley… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli


Evan P

I don’t think the range is active now, the site now belongs to the DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation).

Richard Green

Pembrey range is active with regular fix wing and helicopter activity.
Photos of range activity is regular posted on Pembrey Airport Facebook page including the latest A400M beach landing trials

Chris J

The range is still active but they don’t do live bombing there anymore.

Cam Hunter

I wonder how often the RAFs Hercules aircraft land on beaches all over the world for the special forces, dropping off equipment and specialist teams ect, makes total sense when you can’t land on runways.

Levi Goldsteinberg

Any reason why they all have to be grey? Our logistics planes I mean; Globemasters, Voyagers, Atlas’, 146s Hercs etc. Can’t they be cool WW2 green and brown camo patterns, or that historic white and blue lightning pattern down the side of the fuselage? As they are now, they could be mistaken for Spanish or German or god forbid, French


I read recently that the “Commando Merlins” as they are now branded, are being repainted grey in order to lower their visibility, a simple form of camouflage.

I’d assume it’s the same for RAF aircraft.

They did recently (ish) have a Typhoon painted in WW2 colours – that looked pretty damn nice! Of course, the big kid in me won’t deny that it would be nice to have those colours back in use (and some dazzle patterns in use by the RN!).

Cam Hunter

Oh so the commando helicopters are being painted Grey! What a joke! I always loved the way they looked in the past! The camo patterns better! Who makes these decisions, they must be right boring sods! The camo patters looked tough and suited the marines! Grey doesn’t… and if you can hear a helicopter you can see it normally as they aren’t quiet! Even though Merlins do have advanced rotor blades that cut out lots of noise.

Cam Hunter

I would like black, our aircraft carriers and destroyers all black, would look amazing just like that challenger 2 Black night but ok that’s to extreme, how great did that chally look… or even just camo pattern for our air transport fleet then and fighter jets, I hope the commando helicopter force is still going to be camo or is it just NATO green! Or Grey!! I also loved the commando helicopter force sea king white and black tiger stripes for arctic operations, I doubt we will see any of that with the Merlins but I hope so….

Daniele Mandelli

Our Tucano and Hawks are Black.

Shows up well apparently.


Actually it’s the French German and Spanish planes thst are mistaken for ours.

captain P Wash

Saunton Beach in North Devon has also been used for Hercules landings and take offs. Very Impressive site indeed.

Daniele Mandelli

Saunton? Do you mean Braunton sands outside Chivenor?

If so that’s interesting didnt know fixed wing had operated out of there.

captain P Wash.

Nope Danielle, It’s Saunton Sands, Braunton is the Village and Braunton Boroughs separate them. Chivenor Is to the east of Braunton and has no sandy beech to speak of. Saunton Sands Is nearly 4 miles long if you include Crow Point so It’s long enough to land C130’s. Braunton Boroughs has been used for decades for training, including Rockets fired from Typhoons during WW11. A dear old friend of mine was a Warden for years and he had an amazing collection of “Brass wear”. It’s also a great place to “Wild Camp” if you’re in to that sort of thing.… Read more »

Steve Salt

Hi Danielle.
I live about 30 miles from Saunton Sands and have watched Hercules doing touch and goes several times over the years.
It’s a great sight.

captain P Wash.

Hey Steve, You must have Excellent Eyesight !!!! lol.

Daniele Mandelli

Thank you Captain. I have learnt something here.


Must be an amazing spectacle.

Just wondering how they’d spot quicksand.

I’m hoping the closure of several major airbases in recent years & trashing all that expensive runway doesn’t come back to bite us badly one day.

Steve Salt

Lol Captain.
Eyesight’s not that good even if I lean out of the window, but it is only a short drive from home.

captain P Wash.

Steve, Ha, It’s a fair way for me now but I Worked at Chivenor and Lived In Braunton back In the 80’s. Spent many days exploring the Area and I have many Fond Memories Including watching the Air Displays. It’s a lovely part of the World.