An A400M Atlas carried out the successful deployment of 50 paratroopers from a side door on a single pass.

The photo shows a part of these tests performed recently at the Ger Azet drop zone in southern France.

Flight tests to deliver 58 paratroopers from one side door will continue towards final qualification with simultaneous dispatch in 2020 and full capability in 2021, say the firm.

It should be noted that the original requirement for the craft is for 116 paratroopers able to jump out of the aircraft in one dispatch, quite a way still to go then it seems.

Last year, a Royal Air Force A400M Atlas has delivered 23 tonnes by parachute over Salisbury Plain.

The drops, which the MoD say represent the heaviest overall load ever air-dropped by a UK aircraft, took place as part of trial to confirm the aircrafts ability to deliver heavy loads, such as military equipment, supplies and humanitarian aid, without needing to land.

It should be noted that he maximum cargo weight deliverable via the Container Delivery System from a C-130J Hercules is approximately 15 tonnes, according to the MoD.

Wing Commander Ed Horne, Officer Commanding LXX Squadron, said:

“Atlas has already proven itself on active service especially in the humanitarian relief role in the Caribbean last year and Indonesia earlier this year. These trials confirm the RAF as having one of the most capable transport fleets in the entire world and are a significant step forward in qualifying Atlas for even more operations.”

The trials were reportedly overseen by the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) in partnership with the RAF, the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit and Air Warfare Centre, QinetiQ and Airbus.

The aircraft is a multi-national military transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Military (now Airbus Defence and Space) as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

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Peter Crisp

Do the military still do those HALO jumps that were in the Bond films and are they actually useful?


Yeah special forces like to use High altitude low opening, it helps with stealth and it’s pretty much undetectable on radar, it can also be used for equipment and boats ect so no doubt it’s very useful over enemy territory when can’t land a plane or Helo. I also think the Pathfinders train for this and RAF regiment but I’m not 100% on that. HAHO is another technique used but you open you parachute just after leaving the plane high up and you can travel over 60kms so would be perfect if you can’t fly over your target or if… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

I think Pathfinders or UKSF use the rear ramp for that sort of thing, not the side doors. Might be wrong.


Yeah I’m pretty sure they do also Daniele

Daniele Mandelli

Waiting for Airborne to comment really, he is the man for this.


Morning Daniele, tailgate is used for the deployment of HALO/HAHO, and side doors are used for static line. Although tailgate can be used for static line role specific jumps, such as small team water jumps etc. the idea is that side doors are used to get as many lads out, as low as possible, as quick as possible, as the static line LLP and the previous PX4, open generally quite quickly and no direction change. The problem with the A400 is on sim (simultaneous) sticks the airflow past the side parachute doors is different and can cause severe twists when… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli

Thank you Airborne.


RAF reg dont have a requirement for HALO/HAHO, they have 2 Sqn with the basic static lined trained fellas. This is a core capability for the PF platoon and SF. HAHO is not as common but is a useful capability to have, although a very risky real time, small team covert tasking as it’s easy to get in but what’s your extraction plan? Going down is always the easy bit lol.

Peter Crisp

Thanks everyone.
Very interesting :-).


116 parachutists in one drop is via both doors (one on either side of the ramp). If they achieve this and the refuelling of helicopters (probably won’t happen or the French & Germans wouldn’t be ordering KC-130Js) then Airbus will have a mature product. Don’t hold your breath, this program has been running late on it’s scheduled capabilities for a decade+ now.

Steve Taylor

It would have been embarrassing if they couldn’t have solved the side door problem.

The RAF will make A400m work. But I think it will be another venture where the forces have to cope with kit because of political decisions more than need. C130 should have been the way to go with a C17 buy much, much earlier.