An RAF A400M Atlas transport aircraft has successfully completed a series of spectacular test landings on a beach in South Wales.
The trial at Pembrey Air Weapons Range was organised by the DE&S A400M Project Team, based at MOD Abbey Wood in Bristol, in conjunction with Airbus and the Royal Air Force.
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.
The latest upgrades to the aircraft on display at the Avalon air event in Australia include cockpit armour, IR counter measures and a host of avionics upgrades. These upgrades will allow the aircraft to perform in a tactical role.
Wing Commander Simon Boyle added:
“Indication is that the aircraft will perform very well in the tactical role and on unprepared runways. We’re starting to understand how good the aircraft could be in the tactical environment.”
Last year, videos and images ermeged showing the A400M conducting trials from an austere landing strip at Woodbridge Airfield.
Woodbridge Airfield was identified by Airbus Defence and Space as the site to test the new multinational, four-engined transport aircraft.
According to the MoD, preparation for the trials involved a great deal of construction work by 23 Parachute Engineer Regiment, based at the neighbouring Rock Barracks, to create a natural surface on Woodbridge Airfield for the A400M.
The A400M is positioned, in terms of size, between the C-130 and the C-17; it can carry heavier loads than the C-130, while able to use rough landing strips. Along with the transport role, the A400M can perform aerial refuelling and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment.
The A400M’s maiden flight, originally planned for 2008, took place on 11 December 2009 from Seville, Spain.