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.

An A400M Atlas.

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.

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Andy P
Andy P
4 days ago

I’m assuming its much more complex than the RAF being able to ‘play around with’ the gear that they use on a Herc, hence the tender.

Can I be the first to say we need more A400’s if we’re getting rid of the Hercs too.  😄 

Deep32
Deep32
4 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Quantity is a quality in its own right as they say – somewhere! Would certainly agree with you there matey, believe we had the chance to buy some surplus German (6ish)ones a few years ago at a good price, but didn’t come to anything. Not sure why not if true?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Agreed. I know capability trumps numbers but our numbers are too few in too many areas.

Positroll
Positroll
4 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

I still don’t understand why the UK isnt at least keeping half a dozen of it’s youngest SuperHercs. Add them to the German-French squadron and you add a lot of flexibility to NATO, esp re special ops. An A400 is just too big and expensive to deliver a mere squad into some African bush … PS 10 of the 13 German surplus A400M are being put into a new joint NATO squadron that is currently being stood up near Augsburg. So far, Hungary has joint the effort (in Sept 2020). https://www.janes.com/defence-news/news-detail/germany-to-form-a400m-multinational-air-transport-unit-with-hungary The other 3 will be into mothballs as reserve,… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
4 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Ssh  😁   🙄 

John Clark
John Clark
4 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

Absolutely Andy, 8 additional aircraft would replace the lift lost by 14 Hercs … Unfortunately it won’t replace the niche SF capabilities……

One ‘hopes’ the people in charge have a cunning plan mate…..

Nic
Nic
3 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

You would think that this equipment would have been sourced on initial purchase of the aircraft considering this is the aircrafts bread and butter. what British Army vehicles can be carried by the A400.

Bob
Bob
4 days ago

Can’t help thinking we would have been better off ordering more Hercs and C17s. A400 looks a little too large to perform some of the Hercs sneakier missions.

Ian
Ian
4 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Hi Bob
Perhaps Boris could lease some VIP Hercs for Special Forces use….. VIP boats and planes come off the secret money tree……

Andy P
Andy P
4 days ago
Reply to  Ian

 😂  😂  😂  Unfortunately I think all the VIP stuff is coming out of the Defence budget, I wonder what else the MOD are having to swallow for the extra 16 billion that seems to have been transferred from the Foreign Aid budget. We’ve seen plenty of pictures of a Boxer in red white and blue, maybe a VVVVVIP version of that too for Boris to go weekenders to Chequers in.

David
David
4 days ago
Reply to  Andy P

I think he’ll need it for the Con Party Convention the way his ratings are goi g down.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
4 days ago
Reply to  Bob

A400 is just as good at low level flight and can even do terrain following on autopilot.

dan
dan
4 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Not according to the Brit Herc pilots. They’ve said the Herc is more maneuverable/responsive at low levels than the A400. Also the Herc has combat experience since the 1960s and is always getting upgraded. Most of that cost of developing upgrades is footed by the American taxpayers. Just look at the MC-130J Commando II and AC-130J.

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
4 days ago
Reply to  dan

You should check out the A400 airshow demo on YouTube. It’s very maneuverable.

Terry
Terry
4 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Standard operating procedure for airshows is minimum fuel load as it improves performance no end. Manufacturer’s Fighter bombers also do airshows with dummy lightweight external weapons loads for the same reason.

Doug Pearce
Doug Pearce
2 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

with no
load

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
14 minutes ago
Reply to  Doug Pearce

Well that goes for any air aircraft, fighter or transport

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
4 days ago
Reply to  dan

Im not sure if thats right, I believe the Super Hercules was first ordered by the RAF in 1994 with the US placing its first order in 1996.

Paul T
Paul T
3 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

From memory the RAF were the Launch Customer for the ‘J’,i went to the IAT at RAF Fairford in 94 where the theme that year was the Hercules.

dan
dan
4 days ago
Reply to  Bob

I’ve read some articles where Brit Herc crews are saying the A400 is a step backwards from the Herc in certain missions especially the SF missions. Oh well, the politicians know best. lol

George Parker
George Parker
4 days ago
Reply to  Bob

The smaller A295M is in service with many nations and is reportedly a very versatile and amazingly agile transport. It sounds perfect for special forces use. Additionally, the C130 was capable of landing on and taking off from US carriers even when fully loaded – proven fact but not a job for the faint hearted. The twin engine A295M at half the size, should be able to land on Big Liz and POW with relative ease. Considering there are ready designed and operating refuelling tanker/AEW variants available. It looks like a very attractive candidate for RAF/ RN operations.

Paul.P
Paul.P
4 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Don’t be silly, its.European. And how can a simple cheap idea like that be any good. What we need is some of those US Osprey V22 huge drone things.

George Parker
George Parker
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Ha ha ha. Jokes aside. The coming V22 replacement may be a good addition to the RAF and RN airwing for different reasons.

Paul.P
Paul.P
4 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Well, just making the point that the Euros do actually have some useful kit and also how a technology choice drives you down expensive narrow development paths. For example, if you take the ski jump off QE class and fit an arrestor wire then a twin prop solution to COD, AEW and refuelling F-35B becomes a possibility: C295 Mk2 with strengthened undercarriage. And if you have a substantive refuelling plane then the range and payload advantage of the ski jump becomes irrelevant.

George Parker
George Parker
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I completely agree with you Paul. The decision to save on the catapult arrester systems. Effectively tied the MOD/RN to a very costly future, while reducing CSG capabilities.

There is also the Bell Textron High-Speed Vertical Take-Off and Landing concept in the pipeline. Offering super expensive AI drones for refuelling and “wing man” applications. I shudder to think of the associated cuts and defunding of the other services that would bring if chosen.
What ever happened to K.I.S.S. as a rule of thumb?

Paul.P
Paul.P
4 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

The decision was driven by politics. A low risk cats and traps carrier project at that point in time would have meant steam catapults and F-18 or Rafale, neither of which would have been acceptable to BAE. I can imagine the Daily Express front page had we bought into Rafale, we previously having decided that there would be no naval version of Eurofighter. But looking on the bright side we do have a nice 5th gen STOVL fighter. So what I would do now is take the ski ramps off QE, get de Havilland Canada to design a large twin… Read more »

Last edited 4 days ago by Paul.P
Deep32
Deep32
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Politics aside, a C&T option for the carriers would have also led to the possibility of E2-D, F35C being purchased. There would also be nothing to stop us employing F35Bs either, although that option attracts weight limits on the airframe for tack off and landings.
Swings and roundabouts really, I would personally have liked the C&T option, but it wouldn’t be without risk and was the more expensive option.

Paul.P
Paul.P
4 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

Yes, the C&T option was really what the RN and a lot of people wanted. There is the argument that out and out strike carriers are passé; yesterdays war etc. That’s strategy and above my pay grade. But looking at how the project unfolded teaches us a lot. It seems to me that faced with the financial facts we were indecisive. The French proposal to share the costs of training carrier pilots by creating a joint UK/FR strike force with a new carrier each, one always available would have worked but was deemed politically unacceptable. But really what are the… Read more »

Deep32
Deep32
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Yes, the decision to not go down the C&T route was ultimately political, but based on some hard decision making. One was obviously cost, then there was the manpower issue, added to the fact and probably the deal breaker was the immaturity of the Emals technology that was being offered by the USA. Indeed, the USN are still having issues with it now! Some would say we dodged a bullet by going with the Ski ramp option, its hard to currently disagree dispite all the short comings wrt range payload that the B model has. Oddly enough, we might just… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  Deep32

“we might have ended up with the best version of the F-35”
Spot on. F-35B doubles the number of US ‘aircraft carriers’ not to mention it will be flying from 2 UK carriers, Japanese, Italian and probably Spanish ships. To use that hackneyed phrase, it is a game changer.
Quantity has a quality all of its own. The captain of every Chinese or Russian ship will know there’s a F-35B not too far away.

Johan
Johan
1 day ago
Reply to  Deep32

agree, F35bs are the QE Class are a 50-year program. on its 1st deployment.

yet people seem to think it should be all singing and dancing now.

Ford Class is for its repair work due to problems imagine if our carriers were both laid up not able to launch these expensive aircraft we brought at a greater cost than a F35b . Sea Typhoon was a total redesign like the Rafale.

Deep32
Deep32
1 day ago
Reply to  Johan

I think that the majority of people on here are frustrated with the perceived lack of progress and associated cost of getting the aircraft to a reasonable level of OC. It certainly appears to be a uphill slog!! There are those who a decade ago stated they believed that the F35 programme was flawed from the outset and should have been canned in favour of other designs – certainly the Air Power Australia website was highly critical of the programme, and proposed that a modified F22 Raptor was a better bet for the strike role, going from a F designation… Read more »

Graham
Graham
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Paul, are you saying our new carriers could not re-run the Falklands conflict? Why not? How can you predict we will not ever need to do carrier strike operations in the next 50 years?

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  Graham

For your first question, no I am not saying that. QE and F-35B are clearly light years ahead of Invincible, Hermes amd Harriers. We might struggle with other parts of the task force but not the carrier. As regards the second part yes, at least in terms of the original thinking. QE was sized so as to be able to deliver comparable effects ( sortie rate, munitions, persistence) to a US carrier on day 1 of an operation like the invasion of Iraq. There are those who say we failed because we didn’t fit cats and traps and F-35B doesn’t… Read more »

Johan
Johan
1 day ago
Reply to  Paul.P

is your keyboard fighting back

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 day ago
Reply to  Johan

Nope, just finished a nice curry and wheat beer after a day’s gardening. 😊

George Parker
George Parker
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

F35B is indeed a welcome replacement for the Harrier in RAF service. However, I would have been happy with the option of longer range F35C for the carriers and much upgraded naval variant of the BAE Hawk (McDonnell Douglas BAE T-45 Goshawk). BAE also cooperated with HAL India to develop what has been dubbed the Advanced Hawk. It nicely fulfils the F35 sensor environment training role but also brings real combat capabilities too. Some amalgamation of the two derivatives would be an allrounder and useful addition to the airwing. Keeping a smile on BAE faces. It’s well worth a look.… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
4 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

The Hawk was a fine aircraft and advanced versions would be attractive to some nations. But I think its time for the UK to let it go. I think the F-35C is proving less attractive than anticipated to the USN and USMC, so all in all I can’t see your vision progressing. As the saying goes, we are where we are, bodging LPDs and LSDs to make into our ‘littoral support’ ships alternate reality. What we need is less Powerpoint and more helicopters and practical flat tops. How hard can it be?

George Parker
George Parker
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

My point Paul was more to do with your suggestion that BAE were the political reason why we have no cats & traps. There were options within easy reach that would have had their mouths watering all the way to the bank. Obviously more to it. When it comes to military capability, versatility leading to more flexible response options is a key consideration. The MOD either did not think this through or more likely, were plagued with indecision. Corruption cannot be ruled out either. It is easy for the civil service to throw spanners into the works when it comes… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

I understand. As you say, best to avoid that area and leave it to our elected representatives. The carriers are history now and we are not in a bad place. QE plus F-35B looks like a good weapons platform when considered as a system whole.

George Parker
George Parker
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Leave it to the elected politicians. Paul, you certainly have a knack for pressing my buttons. The pigeons in Trafalgar Square could do a better job than our mindless mob appointees in Parliament. At least the pigeons are not driven by party politics, re-election and self importance. Granted neither have the faintest grasp of national defence requirements. But both seem to delight in crapping on the heads of admirals. The twisted priorities and failures of those parliamentarians are the root cause of the problem. For the most part, they do not even respect the wishes of the aforementioned mob, the… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Steady on, you’ll burst a blood vessel. Parliament would work better if they closed the bar. The wheels came off the EU in Lisbon when it stopped being a community and became a union. The Irish should have had the courage of their convictions and told them to stuff it. I think the commons defence committee is doing a good job on Ajax; another item in Cameron’s disastrous legacy.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
3 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Need I explain BREXIT and it’s lessons for patriots, with respect to MP’s and Lords.”

Hear hear!

Johan
Johan
1 day ago

i use Brexit when i interview people now. Strips away there false personality in a stroke.

people show there true face,

my voting form only said Leave or Stay didnt explain what. David Cameron did a piss poor job in taking it seriously. but then every body has a different argument over Brexit

Johan
Johan
1 day ago
Reply to  George Parker

Correct 100% BAEs were asked to Navalise the Typhoon, and they redesigned the entire aircraft. Unit cost was higher than the proposed F35s.
They then in a pissing contest grounded the entire Harrier fleet over Airframe hours.
Ukgovs didnt want anything more to do with BAEs and then then crushed the MRA4 program.

BAEs were more interested in closing airfields and selling to housing developers.

Johan
Johan
1 day ago
Reply to  George Parker

Hawk is a 70s aircraft, wont last another 50 why the harrier was grounded….

expat
expat
4 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

I agree looking at something for COD, AEW solution. There potential airframes out there that could operate. I know Cats would have been expensive but I really don’t know why we did fit Traps for flexibility and plenty of proven solutions out there.

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  expat

As I wrote in my other post it’s my belief that the reason was politics. Had we gone cats and traps we would have had to choose between F-18s and Rafale, neither of which was politically / industrially acceptable .

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

If we’d gone for Cats n Traps the build and operating costs would have been higher as would the crewing. Harsh truth is we would’ve been lucky to end up with one.

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Indeed. We made a choice. It was either to go with the French proposal to share costs, to get out of the strike carrier game or to build QE class and hope that F-35B plus ski ramp would give you a credible strike carrier.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Yep. Everyone on here seem to do nothing but moan about everything. Not enough not good enough not soon enough and on and on and on. Truth is we’ve come out with the best result we could have.

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yes, my understanding is that F-35B launched from a ski ramp gives you roughly F-18F range and payload plus Growler ++ ECM plus stealth plus eventually Meteor plus Spear 3. This is not F-35C reach but it is a top drawer capability. I am not worried about AEW. I think Crowsnest is fine for sea skimmers which is the only realistic missile threat for some time to come. For COD use a Chinook or an RFA. Refuelling is the issue. Haven’t the Israelis done an underwing stealth external tank? The issue is the knock on effect of the QE decision… Read more »

Last edited 3 days ago by Paul.P
David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Lots of good info thanks. On Carriers there op costs were published on site not long ago. Each costs the same as 2 and a half Type 45’s As good as they are even on Anti – Air they don’t come close to what 18-24 F35’s can give you. Plus air-ground. On RM a specialist LPH might be ideal in theory but the RM are unanimous that PoW is far better with far more landing n take off spots than eg Ocean. We need to understand we’re never going to get perfection but right now what we have is good… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Agree. We are where we are in a pretty good place. Your comment re the RM says that QE class will be used in the LPH role. So the range and endurance of Merlin and Chinook become key to staying out of range of shore based AShM. Also helps explain why we have ordered the extended range Chinook to replace the oldest models.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

The USMC have been looking at the same problem of land based anti-ship missiles there solution was Osprey. I don’t think we have that kind of cash so we’ll have to be creative to get around it. Maybe buddy buddy IR ? Or like you say just extend the range. But i’m sure better minds than mine have been thinking about this for a while now.

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Well, T26 and T31 flight decks will lily pad a Chinook. The River 2 flight deck will lily pad Merlin.😉

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

But that would mean a 26 or a 31 would be in range of the missiles ?

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yes, I suppose, if you refuel on the way in. But T31 is equipped to defend itself in close quarter littoral situations; lots of firepower and a Wildcat with Martlet and Sea Venom
I’m not an expert by any means. I’m just saying distributing flat top area gives you tactical options and reduces risk versus say using a single close in LPH.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Neither of us are experts then ! Maybe this is one of the reasons the RM is changing it’s doctrine away from large scale amphib assaults towards more of a raiding force. It will be interesting to see what kind of kit is introduced to the RM/RN in the coming years and how that impacts on this.

Paul.P
Paul.P
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

The UK has ordered the extended range version of Chinook. If you have air cover from F-35 you ought to be able to guarantee to be able to insert a company of RM several hundred miles inland. This article is talking about being able to drop 12 ton vehicle, logistics and weapons payloads from an A400 which has range of ‘000s miles. A400 is also now parachute qualified. Meanwhile with any luck you already have one of the new battalion strength Ranger units already on the ground helping to train the friendlies. Why do you need to storm any beaches?

George Parker
George Parker
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

David, you can be sure future changes to the RM/RN will be driven by the capabilities of the current fleet and imminent additions. Paul makes a valid point regarding distributing flat top area and associated theatre assets. Which opens up many tactical options offering unparalleled flexibility. Remember, “making do” along with creative highly aggressive thinking is the trademark of the British Armed Forces. Particularly the RN. Placing assets in harms way on picket duty for the fleet is in the SOP’s.

George Parker
George Parker
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

We’ve come out with something our RN will master and squeeze out every last drop of it’s abilities. While giving excellent user feedback, to drive future modifications and improvements. That is not the same as “the best result we could have.”
FYI, the people on here are for the most part British and I’m assuming many fellow veterans. Moaning is therefore traditional and our hard won birth right. Exercised with efficiency honed by years of dedicated practice. The time to worry is when we stop moaning, bitching and complaining. I hope this explains things. “God save the Queen.”

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

I understand your frustration and that your coming at it with the right concerns. My frustration is the tsunami of criticism that seems to be the instinctive reaction to any article or announcement on the site. Everyone single one of us has opinions on what we should be spending our defence budget on what we should be buying and how many of them. But almost every single one of those opinions ignores the reality. Our defence budget is not going to double or treble and even if it did it wouldn’t satisfy many people on this site. I am more… Read more »

Johan
Johan
1 day ago
Reply to  Paul.P

Did you work in Army Procurement or the Warrior program going backwards

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 day ago
Reply to  Johan

Nope. Spent most of my life in IT. Have to say all the systems I helped to design worked very well; not government of course😉

Johan
Johan
1 day ago
Reply to  George Parker

went out with WW2

Johan
Johan
1 day ago
Reply to  George Parker

Also at the time of design Emals and arrestors were seen as a un-proven design as proved by the ford class, keep it simple. QE class can out launch and recover a Ford Class KEEPING IT SIMPLE

Johan
Johan
1 day ago
Reply to  Paul.P

So your plane is to redesign a plane that wasn’t designed for carrier operations to solve a single problem. when it isnt a problem. 1/BAEs asked to check the Typhoon for sea operations, Total redesign of the Airframe ie like Rafale. 2/ Throw away the past 30 years of carrier operations BY the RN/RAF. 3/ Ski Jump is not about just heavy lift off, as the USMC will tell you its a 50ft jump above the waves and allows you to launch in poor seas. 4/ QE Class was designed at the request of the Royal Navy to be STOVL.… Read more »

Paul.P
Paul.P
1 day ago
Reply to  Johan

Well no, we are where we are. But I would pursue my idea of twin prop short take off and landing plane for AEW and refuelling. Checkout the DHC-3 Otter. Its take of distance is not a lot longer than QE and its landing distance is just a smidgeon longer than QE without arrestors. I would give an outline requirements to de Havilland and see what they can come up with. Point taken on Ford class. As regards what’s going on in the army I think the less said the better. But from the outside it gives the impression that… Read more »

Alastair Donald Mellor
Alastair Donald Mellor
4 days ago

This is finally an admission that the MSP system dating from the days of the Beverley and Herc K needs replacing. At the time the J model Herc was procured it was known that a replacement systems would be needed as the cargo floor side rail width wouldn’t be compatible with the MSP. The simple solution was to buy American Type 5 platforms but these failed the simple test of “Will they carry the same loads as the MSP?” resulting in needing twice the number of J models to carry the same amount of air large drop loads as the… Read more »

dan
dan
4 days ago

No one doubts the A400 has a bigger cargo load. It’s a much larger aircraft so only makes sense. And the C-17 is even larger. The Herc crews now perform missions the A400 cannot and who knows if it will be able to in the future. Just because upgrades are planned doesn’t mean much in todays budget realities. When the Brits retire their Hercs they will be missing some key capabilities it gave them. Especially for the SF guys.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago
Reply to  dan

Agree. Irritates me the Herc has been cut.

George Parker
George Parker
3 days ago

The A400 capabilities are complimentary rather than interchangeable. A reduction of C130’s would have been the logical decision. But it seems desk dwelling accountants have the final say. It’s the way they sell; “cuts today for kit tomorrow.” That irritates me most. Grrr!

Steven McColm
Steven McColm
4 days ago

The British Atlases can’t be used as inflight refuelling tankers as they haven’t had the plumbing installed unlike our European counterparts. If they teamed up with Lockheed Martin SC-130J concept could be fitted, freeing up a couple of P-8 airframes for the E-7 Wedgetail.

George Parker
George Parker
4 days ago

Drop the useless Ajax and Ares on the factory, without parachutes. Refund please.

Phil Wyld
Phil Wyld
4 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Ajax was never going to be good enough. The only way we get decentfighting vehicles is to upgrade either platform, or turret, then you’ve a known qty at one end or the other. Warrior with the WCSP was a classic example of a decent start and a doable upgrade. But she was nobbled..Merthyr Tydfil just norwest for the factory

expat
expat
4 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

You beat me to that comment 🙂

George Parker
George Parker
3 days ago
Reply to  expat

The entire debacle should be investigated for incompetence and possible corruption. Who in their right minds agrees to buy something without seeing it fully working and tested?

Jake
Jake
4 days ago

Can RAF a400s refuel mid air (I know they have the receiver fitted but I can’t find any evidence of them actively doing it)? If not, does this render the centre drogue fitted to some of the Voyagers useless once the Hercs are gone? Makes me wonder if they’ll finally get round to fitting a few with a boom…

Also, while on the subject of Voyager, does anyone know what’s going on with the sale of two RAF Voyagers to Brazil? Haven’t heard anything official on our side yet…

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
4 days ago
Reply to  Jake

Nope.

RAF Voyagers? You mean AT Voyagers from the surge fleet of 5 which are not in daily use by the RAF.

Paul T
Paul T
4 days ago
Reply to  Jake

The A400 has the Capability to do AAR if the Owner /Operator requires it to with some modifications. But as far as the RAF Fleet goes it won’t be used as such because of the Terms and Conditions of the AirTanker Contract.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Thank god someone said it.   :wpds_shutmouth: 

Liam
Liam
4 days ago

So it can’t do it already? No wonder defence budgets are a mess.

Cripes
Cripes
4 days ago

It would be great to have more A400s but… but… It is a very expensive commodity at something like £130m a pop. (Super Hercules around £80m).There isn’t the money in the RAF budget for more. If there was any money to spare, which there isn’t, first claim on it would surely be increasing the woefully small number of Wedgetail AEWs and Poseidon MR/ASW aircraft now planned, which are far short of the most minimum number needed. There will be at most 12 front-line A400s available, which is not very many to supply evan a small land force. But realistically, we… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

There are tiny numbers of specialist aircraft each with unique and specialised training n maintenance because that’s the way the RAF has chosen to go.

Positroll
Positroll
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Just add the six SHs to the new joint German – French squadron and you have workable numbers again …
https://militaryleak.com/2021/07/26/lockheed-martin-rollout-of-the-german-air-force-c-130j-super-hercules-military-transport/

George Parker
George Parker
3 days ago
Reply to  Positroll

Workable numbers is not a term I would use to describe the current pitifully under manned and under equipped British Armed Forces. For example, it is arguable if the current sub 100,000 British “Army” meets the definition. The other arms notwithstanding, it’s all downhill from there.

Positroll
Positroll
2 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

Well, yeah, but currently you still got a lot more than 6 SHs flying.
So if you cut that force down to 6 aircraft and move them to France, there should be enough airmen available to service those SHs (also making use of synergies with the 10-12 GER-FRA craft) and still add a few bodies to A400M support …

expat
expat
4 days ago

The A400m benefits the UK with the wings made in the UK. Filton has benefited from investment and leads Europe, possibly the world in wing design. UK needs to get behind projects we’re involved in with our military demonstrating the capability of these platforms thus supporting foreign sales = higher GDP = higher defence budget. We’ve already handed the US most of the Western worlds military aircraft production since WW2. We need to support what we have left.

Cripes
Cripes
4 days ago
Reply to  expat

Well, it depends on whether the forces’ remit is to acquire the best bet for the role at an affordable price, or to buy something less suitable and less affordable in order to support UK manufacturers. Transport aircraft for the SF is a good example. New Super Hercules would be ideal at £80m each, the C-27 J Spartan would likely be very suitable at under £40m, why would they need an over-large A400 at £130m – and what other kit would need to be sacrificed to pay for the large difference? I’,m all for supporting UK manufacturing, but that cannot… Read more »

Expat
Expat
3 days ago
Reply to  Cripes

Well we’ve been doing just that with RN and Army. Look at the OPVs probably the most expensive on the planet. Price paid was to ensure UK manufacturering was maintained. My opinion is that the UK has failed to turn its military industrial output into viable products other countries want. And where we have had success like the Hawk profits have not been reinvested into a replacement product meaning we’re now uncompetitive in the trainer market. There are glimers of hope MRTT looks competitive and if Airbus can secure more orders and economies of scale are applied the A400 may… Read more »

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Tempest ?

George Parker
George Parker
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Empty promises and flowery words do not make a fighter jet. Particularly when serviceable airframes are cut to fund the R&D. It’s pathetic. Worse still, the British people and Armed Forces just accept it. There is something to be said for those French Generals, Admirals and politicians sending threats to the government. Change your ways or count your remaining days.

WOW did I just say that, things must be bad. – memo to self.

David Steeper
David Steeper
3 days ago
Reply to  George Parker

You said it yourself. Your British which means you didn’t mean it. That’s not who we are.

Expat
Expat
3 days ago
Reply to  David Steeper

Yes. The only example but even that will mean fast jet production in the UK will grind to a halt once Qatari Typhoons are complete. We’ll effectively be a parts producer for around 10 years before tempest goes into full production. Imagine if we were just producing parts for ships, there would be outrage. Some good watches ‘When Britain Ruled the Skys’ on Iplayer or ‘Cold War,Hot jets’ on Amzon prime shows how far we’ve fallen. 🙁

David Steeper
David Steeper
2 days ago
Reply to  Expat

I know I loved those programmes too. The V bombers were arguably our greatest post war achievement. I know what you mean about our aviation industry but we need to export everything we produce. Hopefully that’s where we’re heading. We will never get the economies of scale just supplying ourselves. But the glory days of the 50’s are gone for good.

Positroll
Positroll
2 days ago
Reply to  Expat

Germany ordered 38 EFs (tranche 4) last year and will need at least another 45 EFs (tranche 5) to replace its Tornado IDS. So EF construction will continue for a while.

Maybe the UK will even figure out that it can’t really afford a fleet made up only of F35 and Tempest, and, like Germany, plan on using the EF like the US is going to use the F15EX.

Expat
Expat
2 days ago
Reply to  Positroll

Yes but those Typhoons are built in Germany. UK will supply parts to the German assembly line. Our assembly line has no orders after the Qatari jets. So whst EF production will continue elsewhere we will no longer build a fast jet

Positroll
Positroll
16 hours ago
Reply to  Expat

Convince Canada to replace their F18s with EFs. Problem solved … 😉

David Carnes
David Carnes
3 days ago

There is little point having a small capable military when your adversary is 10 times larger! We need to spend 4.5% of GNP or its money down the pan.

George Parker
George Parker
3 days ago
Reply to  David Carnes

The overseas aid budget is the obvious candidate for reallocation but not the only one. Zero net carbon is a pipe dream to far.

  • HM Gov. need to be reminded that their first delegated duty by our monarch is Defence of the Realm. The people to do the reminding are those who wear uniforms. Call it their first duty too.
Johan
Johan
1 day ago

How Did we agree to accept a airframe that didnt replace the aircraft it was supposed to Airbus for you.

Plus
RAF wont the Army to pay for the Herc for special forces use and the army rejected it.

so blame Army for the Herc which still have a 2nd Hand value.

Positroll
Positroll
19 hours ago
Reply to  Johan

1) Originally, the UK planned on keeping the SH around for quite a while. The UK cutting them now is NOT Airbus’ fault. 2) A400M can do the job – if you spend the money to equip it properly. Again, the UK MoDs decision. 3) Another question is, though, whether it makes sense to use such a big, expensive aircraft for special ops. I think not – but that brings us right back to no.1 above. GER (like FRA) decided to get a small SH fleet (in addition to their main A400M fleet and the SLAIS Antonows) to replace some… Read more »

Nate M
Nate M
1 day ago

ajax? anti-tank variant of boxer? atgm carriers? what kinda vehicles is it gonna be?

Positroll
Positroll
19 hours ago
Reply to  Nate M

Way too heavy to be air-dropped that way.

Special forces vehicles, I’d guess?

Maybe a LuWa? 😉

https://twitter.com/JonHawkes275/status/1422538897314172929

Weighs 4,5t.

You probably can fit 7 of them into the cargo hold of a A400M.

Not sure if they are planned to be airdroppable.
Though with some airbags underneath, it should be doable (hey, they land rovers on Mars that way …)

Positroll
Positroll
19 hours ago
Reply to  Positroll

2 Scorpions would also fit the bill of 16t alltogether. With the way things are going re Ajax …