British A400M Atlas transport aircraft are not yet certified to drop personnel but trials to support the capability are “planned”.

Kevan Jones, MP for North Durham,a sked in a written parliamentary question:

“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether the Military Aviation Authority has certified that it is safe to conduct parachute operations from A400M aircraft.”

Jeremy Quin, Minister of State at the Ministry of Defence, responded:

“The Military Aviation Authority has certified aerial delivery of certain categories of cargo on the ATLAS C Mk1. Aerial delivery of personnel has not currently been certified, however, trials to support this activity are planned.”

In 2019, an A400M Atlas owned by Airbus carried out the first successful deployment of 50 paratroopers from a side door on a single pass in France.

Manufacturer flight tests to deliver paratroopers continued towards final qualification with a simultaneous dispatch on both doors conducted in 2020 and full capability to hopefully arrive in 2021.

However, it should be understood that this does not mean the air forces of the six partner nations of the A400M programme, including the UK, can immediately use these capabilities in operations. This comes after trials.

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Andrew D
2 months ago

Let’s hope there don’t wait to long ,we may find we need this capability sooner than there think.😯

George
George
2 months ago

Hi folks hope all is well.
I’m sure if there was an emergency and if required push comes to shove, the craft could be adapted for personnel in a safe manner with their kit.
Cheers
George

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
2 months ago

When i was in charge of this programme in the UK we were usually hugely frustrated at how the whole MAA/RAF qualification/release to service process appeared to drag its feet, sometimes for what appeared to be no good reason at all. Lack of funds or resources? Overly cautious risk-averse attitude by officials? Embarrassment of riches in the RAF fleet compared to other air forces (C-17, Voyager, C-130 AND A400M)? Whatever the reason, we always felt the Turks and the French were using functionalities on the aeroplane way ahead of the RAF. I hope with the decision to retire the C-130… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
2 months ago

I can certainly relate to the overly risk-averse attitude from my time on the Harrier. Interesting insight mate 👍

geoff
2 months ago

Maybe hang on to the C130’s in the interim? The Paras certainly seem to favour them.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
2 months ago
Reply to  geoff

Oh, but this is precisely the excuse that’s always employed. Of course existing users always prefer what they know and love. But the A400M represents a huge investment and it’s the future. The Defence budget can’t go on supporting four aircraft types forever, and the paras and SF are going to have to bite the bullet at some time (the SF boys use even smaller types than the Herc for certain jobs anyway). Otherwise we’d still be using Beverley’s, Victors and VC-10s.

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago

Fortunately/Unfortunately the RAF dragging its feet, is in part due to the Haddon-Cave Report due to the Nimrod incident over Afghanistan. It was found that the platform EAs within DE&S took too many risks and signed for aircraft modifications without due diligence or investigation. Configuration control was a nightmare of fleets within fleets. Since that time the EAs are tremendously risk averse and have pretty much handed all big ticket and large modification authorisation work back to the OEM. The Haddon-Cave Report led to the formation of the MAA, who’s only buzzword seems to be risk analysis.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

Tell me about it! Haddon-Cave caused the pendulum to swing hard in the opposite direction. No Air Marshall wants to find themselves in front of a magistrate ever again! Having said that, I found that when the RAF wanted to do something they found ways to do so pdq. So for sure risk-averseness has to blame for a lot of it, but huge amounts of inertia by the user community and reluctance to ‘change’ and a lack of budget/resources must also play its part

dan
dan
2 months ago
Reply to  geoff

That would make too much sense. lol

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago

Thanks for the posts SR.

On this subject really no other can comment in the same way. Respect.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
2 months ago

Cheers DM

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
2 months ago

It is a very interesting insight. Post Haddington Cave, when it came to sign off time everyone’s pens seemed to have run out of ink! UK is pretty much a laughing stock with the approach to H&S and the inability to understand what it does to costs and how it strangles everything. I’m no apologist for the dreadful decisions that lead up to that and other disasters. But we do tend to visit very specific sins on the generality as we are doing again post Grenfell to the building industry where the villains are actually the manufacturers: how is the… Read more »

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago

Long old process, but of a farce realy, but as long as the airframes have the static line cables, and PJIs still qualified (hercs going, what the bloody hell are they going to use to stay current) then if push comes to shove (excuse the pun) ) the blokes can be lobbed out and take the exit and canopy deployment as it comes, low twists not an issue, high ones a little more, collisions as they exit, normal routine…..lol

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

Freefall it is then….

TrevorH
TrevorH
2 months ago

Isn’t the idea that we are actually going to drop people from parachutes now not simply a crazy idea, but suicidal? The drop injuries alone would decimate any force, one which would be of necessity be small.

But yes, let’s drop a few paratroopers on somewhere … with what? An odd tin of bully beef and a few mags of ammo. In broad daylight? How long to reassemble this force. How fast to move on foot.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
2 months ago
Reply to  TrevorH

I’d read on twitter somewhere there is a 1,000 para drop planned in Estonia. Don’t know how many are 16AA.

TrevorH
TrevorH
2 months ago

No one will be shooting back. And they will be going to the Estonian NAAFI for tea after.

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  TrevorH

Last “semi-official” drop was in Afghan by the SF on a compound. Nearly a direct insertion. This was used as the Taliban had a large number of spotters in surrounding villages, that would alert them if they heard any vehicles or helicopter in the area. The persons of interest (POI) would disappear through a maze of buildings to escape. The use of a drop by jumpers is really quiet, so the element of surprise can be maintained. Yes, by the way they caught the POIs. The days of massive parachute insertion as per WW2/Korea are pretty much over due to… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by DaveyB
Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  DaveyB

You know I loved it mate 🤕! Spot on though buddy large insertions (oohar) are pretty much out, small team drops either static or HALO/HAHO, PF, lead Company will probably be the most we will be doing. However I believe we need to maintain the capability of a full BG drop, as it ensures that the opposition have to take that into it’s planning considerations, and they could not rule it out, which could mean men and assets are deployed/redeployed to counter the threat. And my biggest fear as we continue to reduce our capabilities in the short term, is… Read more »

DaveyB
DaveyB
2 months ago
Reply to  Airborne

What the politicians need to take into account, is the massive numbers of airborne troops Russia and now China have. Russia alone has 4 divisions of airborne troops (which is about the same number our Army has currently). Parachuting is still a major strategy by them to insert a sizeable force behind enemy lines. But they also combine this with heli-insertion and tactical transport aircraft insertion with the IL-76 and An-26s. They even have dedicated armour in the BMD-4M and the Sprut-SD light tank, backed up with the 120mm gun/mortar Nona vehicles. China hasn’t been quiet in this department either,… Read more »

Jan van der Werk
Jan van der Werk
2 months ago
Reply to  TrevorH

Depends on AA defences and opposition air cover really. Mass drops are most likely a thing of the past unless it is unopposed. However, there is always going to be a place for covert insertion IMO. If an opportunity opens for taking ground quickly then airdrop is the only option and should be used to effect. Just part of a commanders options. Small drops are very effective, you can insert miles behind and cause mayhem. It is useful in counter-insurgency, I saw that firsthand. The “enemy” are left guessing as to which direction you are coming from. The other aspect… Read more »

TrevorH
TrevorH
2 months ago

Whether a unit is tough or not is not the point.

Jan van der Werk
Jan van der Werk
2 months ago
Reply to  TrevorH

Of course, it is. Aggression wins hands down. Line units are good at what they do mostly, however they are not up to airborne standards of fitness and risk-taking. That’s true of many nations airborne, except Canucks of course, they wet themselves at the thought of a paratrooper.

Airborne
Airborne
2 months ago
Reply to  TrevorH

The concept of ops is that PF drop in, eyes on the DZ, local area recce then the lead Company will drop in, drop zone dependant, secure the ground for the remaining airframes to air land the rest of the BG. Obviously this is a basic concept, one which is used as a plan, which can of course be changed and enlarged/reduced etc depending on the mission/task. Yes it’s unlikely we are to ever get a full BG lobbing out, but as we say for the tanks and other armour, get rid of an asset and it’s gone, unlikely to… Read more »

Taffybadger
2 months ago

Since we are dropping the C130’s, this small A400 fleet is going to be VERY busy

Nic
Nic
2 months ago

They would need to get the A400 certified before the C130 go.
Weither we use PARA trained troops or not we still have to have the capability

Geoff
Geoff
2 months ago

What on earth are we doimg ditching the C-130 then ?

MikeB1947
MikeB1947
2 months ago
Reply to  Geoff

The C-130 is now an old design (first one flew 67 years ago) and will soon be reaching the end of production. Many other air forces are currently looking to retire theirs and the A-400 would be a good choice for replacement. Even the USAF are looking at possible candidates for a C-130 replacement, although unlikely they will ever consider the A-400 or any other non-American design..

John Hartley
John Hartley
2 months ago

The Germans are spending 255m euro for an A400M tactical upgrade. Five will get a self-protection system, infrared vision capability & a hold floor that can take tracked vehicles.

dan
dan
2 months ago

Hopefully it gets certified before the scheduled exit of the C-130Js from service.

dan
dan
2 months ago

Well they do have a few C-17s that are certified and also I’m sure the Yanks would be willing to help out with their C130H/Js and SF C130s if need be.

Leonidas
Leonidas
2 months ago

How’d this get cocked-up???

Herodotus
2 months ago

Caption photo: Avonmouth, M5 flyover, River Avon, 2nd Severn crossing…..is it my eyes but where has the 1st crossing gone?

Daniel
Daniel
2 months ago
Reply to  Herodotus

It’s there, the white towers are just mostly obscured by the haze

David Flandry
David Flandry
2 months ago

With the impending demise of RAF C-130s, more A400Ms would be nice, along with paratroop capability, Expect the latter but not the former.