The Ministry of Defence have issued a tender notice valued at up to £50m setting out requirements for a ‘Medium Weight Aerial Delivery’ system to drop vehicles from A400M ‘Atlas’ transport aircraft.
The requirement is described in the following way:
“The Army requires the ability to airdrop equipment and vehicles to an all-up mass of 16,000kg from the Airbus A400M Atlas aircraft (A400M) to enable Air Manoeuvre, Theatre Entry, Land Force Sustainment and Humanitarian Operations.”
Specifically, the requirement is to deliver an estimated 40 initial, complete MWAD platforms up to 32 feet in length along with associated parachutes and ancillary equipment, capable of delivering payloads between 3000kgs to 12,000kgs, for dispatch from the A400M.
Further detail from the tender notice is shown below.
“This requirement will be delivered by platforms (onto which combat supplies and vehicles can be restrained), incorporating parachutes and ancillary equipment to enable their extraction from the A400M and safe delivery into drop zones. Requirements also include (but not limited to) spares provisioning, level 4 contractor repairs, Design Organisation (DO) and/or Coordinating Design Organisation (CDO) responsibilities, initial training, technical documentation management, and Post Design Services (PDS).
The contractor shall hold DO/CDO status for the entire system, including all associated assemblies (parachutes and ancillary equipment). The requirement includes provision of an in-service support solution including Level 4 repair activities (level 1-3 repairs and maintenance will be carried out by the Authority), initial ground training, technical documentation management, System Safety Management, Post Design Services (PDS) and provision of spares. The duration of the contract shall include a manufacture and transition phase followed by a 7 (seven) year support phase from Initial Operating Capability (IOC) (plus Options to extend by an additional 3 years).”
The Ministry of Defence also clarify in the tender that the system must be compatible with the A400M, suggesting they don’t want modifications made to the aircraft.
“The MWAD system must be compatible with the A400M.”
Ground trials for the system are to be conducted at RAF Brize Norton during Q4 2022 – Q1 2023 with approval and contract award forecast for mid 2023 followed by declaration of Initial Operating Capability in 2024.
A recent tender to drop boats from the A400M was covered by Harry Lye at Shephard News here.
The A400M Atlas
The Airbus A400M Atlas is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed by Airbus to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules and sits between the C-130 and the Boeing C-17 in size.
The Royal Air Force website describes the aircraft in the following way:
“Atlas (Atlas C.1 A400M) has the ability to carry a 37-tonne payload over 2,000nm to established and remote civilian and military airfields, and short unprepared or semi-prepared strips. Capable of operating at altitudes up to 40,000ft, Atlas also offers impressive low-level capability.”
The UK operates 20 A400M aircraft with two more to be delivered.