In a table detailing current and future Ministry of Defence expenditure, an entry is listed mentioning that the UK plans to purchase additional A400M Atlas transport aircraft later this decade.

An entry in the table under the heading ‘A400m Additional Purchase‘ reads “Additional purchase of A400M planned for the late 2020s”. The increased fleet capacity was also hinted at in the Defence Command Paper, more on that below.

There is no number given however the UK has already ordered 22 A400M aircraft with 20 having been delivered so far. The remaining two are expected this year.

It’s worth remembering that the Royal Air Force will lose its entire fleet of C-130 Hercules aircraft by 2023. The Defence Command Paper released last year, titled ‘Defence in a Competitive Age‘, states:

“The Royal Air Force will retire the BAe146 as planned by 2022 and take the C130 Hercules out of service by 2023. The A400M Atlas force will increase its capacity and capability, operating alongside C 17 Globemaster and Voyager transport aircraft and tankers.”

The C-130J variants first entered service with the Royal Air Force in the late 1990s and some of the C-130s have been retired in recent years but the remaining 14 had originally been due to keep flying until the mid-2030s. It is understood that, where possible, their missions will be picked up by the fleet of larger A400M Atlas transport aircraft.

What does Atlas do?

According to the Royal Air Force website, Atlas 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.

“It will accommodate as many as 116 fully-equipped troops; vehicles; helicopters, including a Chinook; mixed loads, including nine aircraft pallets and 54 passengers, or combinations of vehicles, pallets and personnel, up to a payload of 37 tonnes.”

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Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
13 days ago

That goes to explain the Herc cuts. How comparable is an A400M to a C17?

Fuzzy
Fuzzy
13 days ago

C-17s are about twice as capable as an A400M.

Matt
Matt
13 days ago
Reply to  Fuzzy

Based on…? It’s capability is surely based on its mission, which is different for both A400 & C17, hence the need to maintain both fleets.

Last edited 13 days ago by Matt
T George Elliott
T George Elliott
13 days ago
Reply to  Fuzzy

C17, being usa rubbish needs a long massive well paved runway and needs a special low loader to be of any use…remember they had to delay sub rescue 24 hrs , because the nearest one was a thousand miles away

Jon Marsh
Jon Marsh
12 days ago

C17 doesn’t need a huge runway. Can take off and landing in around 4000ft on natural surfaces. It’s just ours that don’t

Matthew Payne
Matthew Payne
12 days ago

Hi George, great YouTube channel filming the aircraft comings and going at Cambridge Airport.

Honest Jon
Honest Jon
11 days ago

Lol how old are you?? This must be awkward then… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJjbaofaISo

David Flandry
David Flandry
6 days ago

Hey kid. get off the site.

Tams
Tams
12 days ago
Reply to  Fuzzy

Different aircraft for different missions.

Sure, if you’re transporting stuff between two prepared airfields (and can fill the aircraft), then the C-17 is more capable.

But try landing a C-17 on a short airfield, or a rough one.

So I really don’t see why you’re being so simple.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
13 days ago

C17 is a Strategic transport, A400M straggles the Tactical (transport within theatre to short and unprepared strips) and Strategic (Transport between theatres but requiring long tarmac or very long semi-prepared runways) divide being an excellent tactical transport and providing a minimum strategic capability as well.

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
13 days ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

The C-17 is perfectly capable of landing and taking off from a dirt strip. In fact, C-17s were used in Afghanistan on Special Ops missions doing tactical landings on dirt strips at night ferrying troops and equipment in and out.

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
12 days ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

Those are classed as semi-prepared strips not unprepared strips, they have to compress the ground with bulldozers first to stop the wheels sinking.

Tams
Tams
12 days ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

No one said they couldn’t land on dirt.

But they need a lot of length to take-off and do need the ground to not be too rough.

Emilio Alberto
Emilio Alberto
13 days ago

The A400M can land where the Hercules can land, but has twice the payload.

Steve H
Steve H
12 days ago
Reply to  Emilio Alberto

A400 cannot land where a Herc can , much heavier and therefore it digs in, propeller gearbox is prone to failure, much more vulnerable than the Herc.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
9 days ago
Reply to  Steve H

Simply not right. Atlas has a softer ground pressure footprint than the Herc carrying a 21T payload (Herc max payload). Gearbox unreliability issues have been overcome.

Jon Marsh
Jon Marsh
12 days ago
Reply to  Emilio Alberto

No it can’t. It needs much wider runways as it has a wider foot print. This is a disadvantage when going into very small airfields that the C130 can land on

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
9 days ago
Reply to  Jon Marsh

A C295/C27J can fit into even smaller places than a Herc. Probably a far better combination would be more Atlas with half a dozen C295 (or V22?) for certain specialist SF work.

Jon Marsh
Jon Marsh
12 days ago

We need more A400Ms as the ones we have don’t work very well. If we get 30 of them we should be able to guarantee that at least 1 might be serviceable

Johan
Johan
11 days ago

Herc Cuts are more due to the fact its 50+ years old and while still a great Airlifter, a host of Modern UK kit doesn’t fit without a large strip down.

David Flandry
David Flandry
6 days ago

A400M comparable to C130. Half as much as a C17, plus its slower.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago

GOOD LORD!

It’s not April 1st is it?

And we were just discussing Herc/Atlas/C17 pros and cons and should we buy more on the other thread.

If true, a great help.

25 were to be acquired originally. I hope it is for a few more than that.

( I still want to keep the Hercs!! )

Matt
Matt
13 days ago

Definitely excellent news! I do wonder about a potential capability gap between losing the C130 and gaining additional A400…

Last edited 13 days ago by Matt
Ron
Ron
13 days ago

Morning DM I agree I would like to see some of the Hercs kept. They can do things that the Atlas can’t. All in all it is some good news with an increase in RAF transport ability.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Morning. It’s probably a false alarm!

Ron
Ron
13 days ago

Aaaaw, hope bubble burst.

andy a
andy a
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron

What can they do that the Atlas (fully certified) cant do?

Ron
Ron
13 days ago
Reply to  andy a

Get in and out of places the Atlas can’t due to size, wieght,take off distance etc. Don’t get me wrong the Atlas is a dammed good bird but in my opinion the A-400 is more of a strategic transport aircraft whilst the C-130 is a more tactical aircraft.

T George Elliott
T George Elliott
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron

C130 is very limited, expensive to maintain, and cant carry any normal armoured load

Jon Marsh
Jon Marsh
12 days ago

C17 and A400M are much more costly to maintain

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
10 days ago

I have never thought that AT is a great way to move armour. We have surely always relied on sealift for that.

Benjamin Rule
Benjamin Rule
13 days ago
Reply to  andy a

Take off from an aircraft carrier!

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron

What can the Herc do that the Atlas can’t? Genuine question

Ron
Ron
13 days ago

Hi SR, an Atlas is about 75 metric tons whilst a herc is about 35 metric tons so landings on fields, beaches etc is much more complicated for the Atlas. The same issues are with landings and take offs. An Atlas on a tactical take of needs 980m whilst a Herc needs 430m. As I have tried to say the Atlas is a good bird longer range, better capacity etc than a Herc but getting in and out of tight spots for SFs, rescue missions etc the Herc would find it easier. So from a tactical/battlefield forward airbase to battlefield… Read more »

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
12 days ago
Reply to  Ron

Thanks Ron. I can see your logic, however the Atlas has a lower ground footprint than the Herc due to its much higher flotation undercarriage, meaning it has better performance on soft and unprepared strips. This is of course dependent on all up weigh, but assuming an equivalent payload of say 21T. As for strip/takeoff length, I’m not sure but you may be right. I was led to believe however, again with equivalent payloads, that both aircraft had similar takeoff runs. Remember combined max installed power is 18.5K horsepower for the Herc and 44K for the Atlas. In every other… Read more »

Ron
Ron
12 days ago

I agree I know what I would rather give me a lift. I also agree that possibly for SF operations a smaller aircraft would be better. A very good old friend of mine that served out in Borneo used to go into battle in an Auster. Even landed once upside down on the beach in the water, ouch is all I could say.

Jon Marsh
Jon Marsh
12 days ago

Too many to list really. If the C130 has 100 capabilities then the A400M will be able to accomplish around 40 on the list. The A400 can probably do some of those 40 better, can might have another 10 or 15 that it might be able to do in the future.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
9 days ago
Reply to  Jon Marsh

Mmm… not sure. When the A400M spec was being written (a process I was part of) the participating nations made sure that every performance point and key user requirement was at least as good, and in most cases better than the Herc or the C160 Transall. The actual aircraft turned out to be better than the written spec in about 37% of cases and met the spec in the rest. So it’s a mighty aircraft within its design category. Only downside I can see vs a Herc is larger radar and IR signature. But then again, no transport aircraft is… Read more »

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
13 days ago

Might just be other governments are looking at reducing their buy so we can take those airframes at a good price?

Makes sense to consolidate types.

A400M can lift a lot more weight than a C130J

Maybe just maybe the fact that RN and RAF have been grown up about removing obsolete kit and Boris £24Bn come together to see worthwhile increases in worthwhile kit?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago

Maybe, just maybe….fingers crossed.

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
13 days ago

Hi Supportive Bloke,

I agree. Taking old kit aout of service and then ‘gapping’ the capability to straighten out the budget and hey earn some brownie points and buy some shinney new kit.

I also wonder if the RN has been putting in a supportive word as a result of the RAF’s contribution to CSG21. Given the small overseas foot print we have air transport is key to deploying our carriers to the other side of the world…

Cheers CR

maurice10
maurice10
13 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

I doubt the numbers will be 14, thus reducing capability, which appears to be MOD policy in regards to procurement? Realistically, 10 additional airframes would allow the RAF to supply UK forces far and wide, in line with Global Britain.

Supporitve Bloke
Supporitve Bloke
13 days ago
Reply to  maurice10

It is a little bit more nuanced than that. Standard payload on a C130J is 15,000kg and at that payload range is 3,300km Standard payload on a A400M is 30,000kg with a range of 4,500km. The operational parameter that is critical is kg*km. In this respect an A400M is almost 3x better than a C130J. So buying 5x A400M would keep the same kg*km of RAF transport fleet at parity and adding 7 would increase it. C130J Payload = 15,000 Range = 3,300 kg*km = 49,500,000 A400M Payload = 30,000 Range = 4,500 kg*km = 135,000,000 These are Wiki figures… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by Supporitve Bloke
Matt Harding
Matt Harding
13 days ago

Thank you – that is a helpful analysis.

maurice10
maurice10
13 days ago

Thanks for the comparison between CJ30J and A400M, so let’s make it five more aircraft.

The Mover
The Mover
13 days ago

It’s not all about payload, floor limitations means it sometimes carries less than a c130!

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
12 days ago
Reply to  The Mover

Explain?

Point load limitations?

Coll
Coll
13 days ago

I think Germany is reducing their A400m order by 7, so…

Blue Fuzz
Blue Fuzz
13 days ago
Reply to  Coll

I believe the Germans have ordered 53, but only want to keep 40 of them. There was talk of allocating 10 of the spares to a NATO airlift pool based in Hungary. If that happens there would, in theory, be 3 left that the RAF might seek to purchase. Three doesn’t make up for 14 cut C130Js though.

Forray
Forray
13 days ago
Reply to  Blue Fuzz

Those three remaining will go to German training and testing centres. Germany will take all 53. Don’t worry, Airbus will happily build new ones for you.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
13 days ago
Reply to  Coll

Exactly.

I think we will just hoover, hopefully, all of them.

That would then mean that in terms of kg/km the air transport fleet was pretty much the same but newer.

Steve M
Steve M
13 days ago

agree newer kit is better, but sometime bigger ‘isn’t’ 3 planes = 3 3 flights to places where most of time you necessarily need large/heavy just multiple places, like the old 146’s they are used to do little hops with fewer people, will these tasks now be done with a Voyager? same would apply to using A400 or C-17 to drop off couple of pallets to a European det seems a waste of airframe hours/landing cycles

Coll
Coll
13 days ago
Reply to  Steve M

I believe there’s a contract out to replace the BAE-146. The Government also has a Titan Airways A321Neo on contract for VIP duties.

John Clark
John Clark
13 days ago

Hi Daniele, It does ‘appear’ to be good news… I would say that the notional number of 25 for the second batch of airlifters, filled by the A400 eventually, came from a 1990’s requirement for 50 airlifters to replace the C130K. At the time, in the early 90’s, we all had high hopes for the European FLA, especially as for a short time, the US was considering joining too… As we know, the US didn’t, went for the ‘J’ and FLA turned into a typical ‘ slow as treacle’ European bun fight, that decades later, is yet to to be… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
13 days ago

Maybe they saw my comment to buy 8 more yesterday 😆

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

👍!!

Paul.P
Paul.P
13 days ago

Late Christmas present Daniele 😂

klonkie
klonkie
13 days ago

Jeepers D. So I pinged you on this very subject yesterday – my suggestion of purchasing used example from the Germans! What a bizarre (but potentially happy) coincidence. I do agree that retaining the c130j’s would have been the preferable option.

eclipse
eclipse
13 days ago

WHAT???
Is this actually good news? I do hope it isn’t only 3… but if not that is rather fantastic and while will not be able to replace the Hercs in some specific roles, especially for SF, will increase our airlift capacity without question.

lee1
lee1
13 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

As far as I know the A400m can replace the Herc in SF operations. It looks like it has a take-off distance less than that of a Herc! That is impressive. There is talk of keeping SF Herc is service for longer though purely due to the fact the A400M is still new and SF operating envelopes and procedures have not been fully tested and proven yet.

Heidfirst
Heidfirst
13 days ago
Reply to  lee1

Have you heard an A400M in flight? It’s not exactly quiet (& rather distinctive) …

DP
DP
13 days ago
Reply to  Heidfirst

Yes, my thoughts exactly, a distinctive whine (not exactly covert), even from FL250 to FL300. That said, the Herc did/does have its own distinctive deep hum …. it especially did when it had the old Allison engines as per C-130K C1/2. Still good news we might see more A400Ms, let’s hope it’s not just a cynical 2 or 3 extra, though I bet we’ll not see a one-for-one replacement with the 12 to 14 or so Hercs.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  lee1

Yes, of course it can replace it. The issue for me is does it need to? Does supporting DSF need an aircraft that size? Not for me.

And using Atlas for the SF mission means those ac are not now doing what they do best, carrying large loads on the multitude of other taskings required of them. For SF assigned aircraft, I would guess, large loads is not such a prime requirement. Unless they are deploying half the SAS in one go, which is unlikely.

It’s like picking up an SIS officer and his RWW minder with a 747. Outlandish.

Tommo
Tommo
13 days ago

Morning Daniele, c130s all round workhorse for decades now well built airframes the RAF has used them for so many different jobs except 1 would love too see a couple reconfigured as good old ground support Gunships manned by the RAF Regiment If only one can dream

Marius
Marius
13 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Gunships manned by the RAF Regiment 

😆

Tommo
Tommo
13 days ago
Reply to  Marius

Bit of Air miles rather than walking the perimeter in all weather’s

Marius
Marius
13 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Nice one! 🙂

David Lloyd
David Lloyd
13 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

What an outsanding idea! If they took it on, the comittee managing it would demand that the C130’s would need stretching 25 feet and have more toilets fitted. The guns would need to be designed from scratch and power supply enhancements would be needed. The extra weight would meem RR will design and build special oneoff engines. The obvious, and much cheaper option would be to buy a couple of AC130 Spectre from the Americans!

Tommo
Tommo
13 days ago
Reply to  David Lloyd

OK David It was worth a try , just bang in a couple of 20mm Gamb’01s nstead only 2 Aimer and 2 Loaders one portside one starboard side Or do what the Argies did lower the Ramp and It becomes an ineffective Bomber 250lbs and 500lbs

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

AC130 purchase was actually speculated on when we were in Afghan.
I’m not sure that the RAF Regiment manning it would go down to well with certain here!

Airborne
Airborne
13 days ago

God forbid No!!!!!!……. 👍

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
13 days ago

Hi Daniele,

I don’t think that is entirely accurate, mate. Small teams can require signicant equipment so a high altitude drop with guided pallets could be an answer. You’d need comething pretty for that sort of thing.

Cheers CR

ChariotRider
ChariotRider
13 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

prett ‘big’

Sorry for the typo…

CR

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  ChariotRider

Quite possibly mate, which is why I added the “guess” comment.

On the other thread, I “assumed”

Always best to do both when I’m not actually in SF so don’t know for sure!

James Fennell
James Fennell
13 days ago

There seems to be a theme in the DCP about removing older platforms and reducing the number platforms types. The cancellation of WCSP for more Boxer, more A400 but removal of C-130, replacement of multiple hull types with MRSS, multiple Helo types with NMH, Sentinel cancellation (and perhaps more Protector / Lanca?). This must be about reducing operatinal costs and simplyfying logistics to improve availability.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  James Fennell

Could well be. If those programmes actually deliver in the numbers required.
So far, and as usual, cuts happen quickly, the new kit comes later. If it has not been quietly cancelled by then as the “carrot” is nibbled away for other things.
But there is always hope the positives all comes to pass James.

Dragon_Jack
Dragon_Jack
13 days ago

We could have retired all Hercs if we procured C295s to fill multiple RAF capabilities, including SF. I believe Voyager (with Saab AWAC role conversion), Atlas and C295, combined with RPAS could fulfil all RAF needs.

Richard Thornton
Richard Thornton
8 days ago

The subject of C-130s, SF missions and other mission sets that it could be used for (ala,same uses/capabilities the US has been using the C-130 for, for many years) reached a crescendo a few years ago with rumours of all kinds of exciting ideas. Including fitting weapon kits to them. That was at the height of COIN OPs and Clearly things have changed dramatically since then (apart from maybe the Africa interests) Cost is always an issue, but there is a lot of mileage in having smaller aircraft like the C-27. The US had a fair few Skyvans in Iraq… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
8 days ago

Richard.

Good to see you posting again. Fascinating comments, and I totally agree on the utility of smaller types. And why A400 is not the answer. It has too many commitments on it already.

I think sadly a fleet of V22 that size is indeed a pipe dream.

I thought we had our own “SF Air” pretty well ordered with JSFAW and its components. And they keep dismembering it!

Interestingly, some infrastructure for possible UK V22 use has been built by MoD. Probably just borrowing Uncle Sams, sadly.

andy a
andy a
13 days ago
Reply to  eclipse

I dont believe there is anything a certified capable 400 cant do that a very aged herc can

Bob
Bob
13 days ago
Reply to  andy a

Well it is a larger target at low level than a Herc.

Tommo
Tommo
13 days ago
Reply to  Bob

Spot on Bob

BB85
BB85
13 days ago
Reply to  Bob

If they can hit an Atlas they can hit a Herc. The maintenance contracts for these aircraft are enormous, it is better value to buy new off the German surplus orders.

Alan Babtridge
Alan Babtridge
13 days ago

A great decision. The A400M is streets ahead of the aircraft it replaces. Those crying into their keyboards about the retirement of a 1960’s airframe need to accept change, sentimental value doesn’t win wars, capability does.

Knight7572
Knight7572
13 days ago

The war in Afghanistan has more than likely worn out the RAF C-130J Herc fleet

Dave S
Dave S
13 days ago
Reply to  Knight7572

Spot on

Ron Stateside
Ron Stateside
13 days ago
Reply to  Dave S

Yes, most salient comment here by Knight7572 and nobody replies but you. Everybody else too busy playing procurement manager. 25 C130s ordered in December 1994. 22 A400s ordered plus planning on more.

klonkie
klonkie
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron Stateside

H Ron I gave some thought to the state of the C130J fleet. No doubt they’ve been worked hard. I’d like to understand if they can be retained if re-sparred and re- engined?

I can tell you from my experience that the SAAF C130B fleet were worked very hard in their lifetime and are still operational (all be it barley), with 60 years on the clock come 2023.

Now Im not suggesting keeping the J models for half a century, but it demonstrates what can be done in extending their longevity.

DaveyB
DaveyB
12 days ago
Reply to  klonkie

Before Austria and Bangladesh got the ex RAF K models, they had the main wing spars replaced by Marshalls. This has given them another 10 years of life.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  Ron Stateside

Everybody else too busy playing procurement manager”

Right….including one poster who actually oversaw the entry of Atlas into service with the RAF…. 🙄

It is positive news, so lets all play “procurement manager” for just a while and enjoy.

Deary me.

Ralph
Ralph
12 days ago

Unlike you that person wouldn’t be playing then.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
9 days ago
Reply to  Ralph

What an insightful comment! Good effort for your first one….

klonkie
klonkie
12 days ago

ha ha – nice one Mate

klonkie
klonkie
13 days ago
Reply to  Knight7572

Hi K . I can tell you from my experience that the SAAF C130B fleet were worked very hard in their lifetime and are still operational (all be it just), with 60 years on the clock come 2023.

Now Im not suggesting keeping the J models for half a century, but it demonstrates what can be done in extending their longevity

tblt
tblt
13 days ago
Reply to  klonkie

It’s not (just) years since purchase but hours of airtime & pressure cycles that determines an airframes lifespan

klonkie
klonkie
12 days ago
Reply to  tblt

Hi tblt – totally understand your airframe hours point. My example of the SAAF C130 is exactly that- ,they have amassed huge airframe hours. That being said, they been sparred twice today and also re eningedt

James F
James F
13 days ago

Daniele will be happy!!!

John Clark
John Clark
13 days ago
Reply to  James F

Many of us were hoping for a buy of 8-9 to cover the 13 Hercs leaving service.

That number would pick up the lost ‘lift’, but, (its possibly just my cynical mind here), they might be considering replacing the C17 by 2030 and they ‘could’ be considering the additional A400 purchase for that eventually.

Matt
Matt
13 days ago
Reply to  John Clark

Not the range, though. AFAICS.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  James F

See above. Shocked more like. Lets wait til they are actually ordered! But positive news.

Andrew B
Andrew B
13 days ago

Germany has 13 its been trying to get rid off the ages – perhaps a deal could be struck with them to pick some up relatively cheaply, especially now the C17 line is closed. Kabul showed the need, Global Britain suggests more capability for expeditionary forces not less. Good news indeed. Fingers crossed.

Alabama Boy
Alabama Boy
13 days ago

It might be just attrition buys to take the A400M into the late 2030’s. I recall CAS mentioning attrition buys of F35s at some later date in a recent interview. So maybe the RAF is trying ensure a capability going forward rather than wear out our current fleet and then buy a whole new fleet of some yet to be defined future transport. Given the trend of RAF equipment buys, a fleet of new aircraft is always smaller than the fleet it is replacing purely on affordability grounds almost irrespective of the threat/need..

Louis
Louis
13 days ago
Reply to  Alabama Boy

At this point we don’t really know when and how many new A400M will be ordered but hopefully attrition replacements will also be made on top of this order at a later date when the fleet has had some usage. “the trend of RAF equipment buys, a fleet of new aircraft is always smaller than the fleet it is replacing” Whilst that’s true so far, the RAF is at a point where they cannot really reduce aircraft numbers without being completely ineffective. Only 9 voyagers, 3 e7 and 8 fighter squadrons the RAF cannot realistically reduce aircraft numbers without losing… Read more »

Robert Blay.
Robert Blay.
12 days ago
Reply to  Louis

Capability isn’t simply measured with airframe numbers. New aircraft are very expensive, and much more capable. Availability rates are also much higher, so you can do more with less. For example the Voyager fleet regularly hits 95% availability rates and higher. The old VC10 and Tristar fleets struggled to hit 60%. The Atlas can carry double the load of a Hercules and over a greater range. The 3 E7’s will easily surpass the capability and availability of 5 E3’s. Plus the new Protector fleet will further enhance our networked area of coverage. I’m not saying I’m comfortable with low numbers.… Read more »

louis
louis
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Yes whilst aircraft are much more capable now I was referring mainly to future replacements of these aircraft, whilst along time away. For example the RAF cannot cut 3 AWACS down anymore as aircraft maintenance and crew costs would be too much too warrant reductions. Also, although this point is made a lot, more capable aircraft can still only be in one place at any time.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
12 days ago
Reply to  louis

I think the next generation in AEW will be unmanned. UAV’S networked together with the crews safely operating them from a hangar at Lossiemouth.

louis
louis
11 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

yeah you’re probably right, maybe there could be similarities across a fleet of AEW, SIGINT, and sentinel replacement, or even they could all be based on the same airframe with different loadouts.

Alabama Boy
Alabama Boy
12 days ago
Reply to  Robert Blay.

Agreed, but as the capability of individual airframes has advanced so has that of the potential threat cancelling out any capability advantage we might think we have. Whilst the West has been focusing on low technology opponents in the Middle East for the last 10 – 15 years, the Russians and especially the Chinese have been making huge strides in the numbers and capability of their equipment. In some areas they are probably ahead of the west so I am afraid numbers are still very important. As an aside, it is a little misleading to compare 5 end of life… Read more »

Paul T
Paul T
13 days ago
Reply to  Alabama Boy

I’ve just seen that the US Military is about to put 3 F35’s into storage, 2 ‘B’ s and a ‘C’, now we are now short of one 🤔 I wonder if a deal could be done ?

Tommo
Tommo
13 days ago
Reply to  Paul T

Kwik fit could help and Lots of fresh water and our one short will be as good as new 👍 Paul

Christopher Gill
Christopher Gill
13 days ago

A400M for special forces?? Hercs are disposable at about £20m each……the A400M is definitely not at ~£120m each

Bill
Bill
13 days ago

The Hercs should be kept until the end of the decade. 22 A400’s plus the C17’s and 14 C130J’s makes for a highly flexible fleet able to meet all required missions. It didn’t need fixing but still, the MOD broke it!

Tommo
Tommo
13 days ago
Reply to  Bill

Quite right Bill “if it didn’t need Fixing ” but as with most things within the corridors of Whitehall ” O look nice and shiny must get one ” regardless if it works or not

Dave
Dave
13 days ago
Reply to  Tommo

Utter tosh

Dave S
Dave S
13 days ago
Reply to  Bill

That’s just unverified claptrap

Joe16
Joe16
13 days ago

Good news, something that I had hoped for but not expected! It is properly hard to work out how well the A400M could replace Hercules, primarily because I can’t find a comparison of how the rough field take-off and landing performance compares. They always seem to not quite be apples and apples. If anyone has one, that’d be great. What I’ve seen seems to suggest that the A400M actually wins on both counts, despite being larger and heavier. I know that sometimes the pure physical size difference may be a limiting factor, but I imagine 99 times out of 100… Read more »

Richard Hardcastle
Richard Hardcastle
13 days ago

Looking at the C 130 and A400 for tactical use and particularly Special Forces tasks, the A 400 being bigger, will be easier for hostile ground troops to target with small-arms fire. Discuss.

J U Staskin
J U Staskin
13 days ago

Iherditonthegrapevine I have noted on many/numerous forums the significant difference in noise and decibels that the A400M ATLAS makes compared with the C-130K. I live under the LYN RW 25 (as was) now 24 @ 6d LYE so ac were twixt 2000’-4500’ on departure). I have done so since 1977. ATLAS noise is ghastly, those 8 bladed props make for a very unpleasant sound, unlike the HERCULES. The old K model just rumbled inoffensively into the air. I should guard against trying to make an argument about it – the Wives Committee (RAF) have deemed it the case; so a… Read more »

Matt
Matt
13 days ago

Brains Trust question if I may.

I am looking for a link which lists US air forces in the UK.

I want to check if it really is more than the RAF.

Cheers.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
13 days ago
Reply to  Matt

Check out on Wiki for details on these locations:

RAF Lakenheath.
RAF Mildenhall.

Ground units / infrastructure are also at –

RAF Croughton.
RAF Barford St John.
RAF Welford.
RAF Alconbury.
RAF Feltwell.
RAF Blenheim Crescent.
RAF Molesworth.
RAF Fairford.

And embedded at MoD / UK military sites in several other locations.

I believe the number of F15E / F35A assigned to 48th FW alone is not far off the RAF fast jet fleets inventory.

Matt
Matt
13 days ago

Ta.

Just having a debate with someone who says all is hunky-dory in the European Defence garden, and looking for a startling example.

Last edited 13 days ago by Matt
Lordtemplar
Lordtemplar
13 days ago

Nice 👍

Mark
Mark
13 days ago

Do you think the UK will go for the rapid dragon palletised cruise missile delivery system if so will the A400 be able to deliver it? I know the C17 can?
Any thoughts anyone?

Paul42
Paul42
13 days ago

An additional buy is good news. However, the C130J is better suited to SF work, particularly the MC130J which we sadly don’t have……

Dave S
Dave S
13 days ago

People ignore or don’t appreciate that all the remaining RAF C130Js need very expensive wing spar replacements. Deemed money better spent in the short term on new and novel capabilities from within the budget available. The last resparing would have not been done until later in this decade and the fleet was due out of service anyway by the early 2030s. Hardly a wise investment in the circumstances. More Atlas is the way ahead when money is available later in the decade to maintain overall lift capacity requirements driven by army deployments (smaller army now) and the RAF deployments… now… Read more »

AW
AW
13 days ago
Reply to  Dave S

The centre wing replacement was already paid for, that money has been spent. Retiring the aircraft early has not recouped that. Aside from the capability gaps that will ensue for years the simple fact is the RAF and MoD as a whole rarely fly C-17 or A400s full, therefore, if you’re looking to be ‘green’, which the MoD is, neither platform, not the Herc make sense flying when empty. Funnily enough, after 50 odd years in service most loads are Herc sized…

Dave
Dave
12 days ago
Reply to  AW

I’m sorry but my understanding is that the wing spar issue was not as you say. Only one ac has undergone the “trial” installation and that came in at considerable extra cost (I’m talking Multiples of the original estimate) and blew out of the water any budget allocation made in 2015 for said programme. The cost effectiveness of it was therefore rightly challengeable especially against the ISDR liking to spend money on future essential capabilities and not on old stuff. This the allocated 130 re spar funding has been reallocated – probably to A400. Sure 60 years of C130 ops… Read more »

Last edited 12 days ago by Dave
AW
AW
12 days ago
Reply to  Dave

Hi Dave, unfortunately your sources are incredibly incorrect, three are complete with a fourth going through now. Their resale value is minimal without it and the further planned spendings are budgeted on the value of the CWRP being completed. The money from the sale if the fleet is likely to be spent on AESA Radar for Typhoon.
A400 is still a long way from delivering, a clearance on the platform is not a capability with trained and sustained crew numbers.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
13 days ago
Reply to  Dave S

With that being the case, surely new C130’s would be a better buy than wing re spars. As great as folks say the A400 is it’s good to have a mixed load ability.
You would want an HGV dropping off ur Amazon parcel and postage costs associated with it.
I don’t know the costs, the budgets etc and I imagine it’s a very hard job trying to decide what to buy and when for the airforce.
Really the defence budget is huge but so is the costs.

Dave
Dave
13 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Frankly that’s just not a viable decision – new 130s would be even more Expensive by a big amount than the respar programme. Furthermore the removal of a type fleet provides more savings to spend elsewhere given the removal of dedicated training and logistics streams. You are being far too simplistic in your analogy about Amazon parcels etc. immense investment had been made by the RAF in its Atlas fleet and it would be foolish to assume costs per flying hour are radically different to maintaining and operating a smallish C130J fleet. Some capability compromises have to be made when… Read more »

Last edited 13 days ago by Dave
Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
12 days ago
Reply to  Dave

I do agree that savings will be made but these savings have been made a lot before and I’m just not sure the money gets put back in the correct places. The questions must be: what does the C-130 do that the atlas cannot. How utilised are the atlas and c-130 just now. Will it be missed if retired. What are the savings going to be and where is it going. I know the RAF work the aircraft hard. Not like the 50yearold c-130s still flying for other nations. If the capability can be dropped and not have a massive… Read more »

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
13 days ago

Best news I’ve read in ages! Well done! Let’s hope it happens soon.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
13 days ago

As your name suggests I think the same about this announcement/leak/slip of the tongue or whatever this is. Some transports maybe at the end of the decade. Hmmmm.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard
12 days ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Let’s hope it’s more than an idle wish

Steve
Steve
13 days ago

Assuming this is actually.planned and not just hopes by the MOD and assuming the plan isn’t to retire a few early purchased to replace with newer models, then this is great news.

Converting a handful to gunships would be a significant boost, to be able to provide persistent CAS without needing to call in the US would be good.

Also time to work on the air-to-air refueling options to enable extension of range to the Chinook and other helicopters.

Monty
Monty
13 days ago

What are the thoughts here on the RAF operating a small tactical airlifter for SF missions? C-27J or C-295 perhaps? Maybe eight or so to replace the Herks along with the plus up of A400M. Or a….CV-….errr.. tilt rotor?

Ambivalent Lurker
Ambivalent Lurker
12 days ago
Reply to  Monty

All non-starters as you’re buying a very small specialist fleet of aircraft with limited uses and all requiring additonal support/maintenance and personel investment over and above what is already allocated. C295 can barely carry anything except personell, C27J is small (same load width/height as a herc but half the lifting capability) but useful in certain situations, Tiltrotor options? Well thats basically the V22 so expensive and complex, yes, its fast-ish but slow and short ranged compared to an A400 (and doesnt stack up well against Chinook for general use) but with less lift capability than a Junglie Merlin…But the major… Read more »

Bill Gates
Bill Gates
12 days ago

Happily cut some RAF merlins or Pumas. CV22B on the aircraft carriers would provide a credible helicopter package. Don’t forget the range and the ability to A2A refuel. So many bad decision in aircraft in defence at the moment. A400 is terrible unless you’re moving stuff around the world.

A Z EV
A Z EV
14 hours ago
Reply to  Bill Gates

The RAF doesn’t have any merlins

John Hartley
John Hartley
13 days ago

Spain had surplus A400M. Perhaps the UK could buy those at a discount? Another 7 to make 29 for the RAF perhaps? 3 pure transport & 4 tanker/transports as they are above the 25 of the original plan. If Airtanker objects, charge them with Treason.

Steve R
Steve R
13 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

To be honest we need at least an additional 10 to replace the 13 Hercs. 7 from Spain and 3 from Germany, perhaps?

Really, I think we should just increase the A400s to 40 airframes. Won’t happen, of course!

Johan
Johan
11 days ago
Reply to  John Hartley

Airtanker have the contract to re-fuel with the type specified only, so unless Aircraft are not supported for Probe and Basket, RAF is free to use Nato Alliance aircraft.

Someone at the Procurement Office was very clever, as the P8s and E7s are Boom receivers. which would have caused the Air Tanker contract to possibly overshoot the contract usage.

This way currently air tanker contract will run its course on value fo money.

John Hartley
John Hartley
11 days ago
Reply to  Johan

Airtanker has been a disaster from day one. We paid top dollar for poorly equipped aircraft. I hope the RAF buys its tankers outright next time.

Mr Bell
Mr Bell
13 days ago

Good. And a few more/ another batch of F35Bs please. At least 24 more needed maybe 25 actually to replace crashed loss

Mike Dearie
Mike Dearie
12 days ago

Aren’t there spare parts issues with the raf fleet of A400s.

Simon Perry
Simon Perry
12 days ago

A400 can carry a battle weight warrior into theatre. A C-17 cannot. However with the MOD seeming to be buying even heavier vehicles than warrior ie AJAX even more A400’s will not be able to carry the overweight waste of money AJAX. Sorry last bit my own thoughts.

Liam
Liam
12 days ago

Good news, especially if the final number is 30< to actually replace the Hercs. I wonder if there's any scope for arming some of these new airframes? Rapid Dragon is certainly interesting but no doubt expensive, even some Brimstone pylons would be an improvement. A shame that there's zero scope for 8-10 C27s to fill the SF/gunship gap but that's just playing fantasy fleets

Bruce Swindells
Bruce Swindells
12 days ago

The possible order will make up for the 3 A400 Atlas cancelled from the original order of 25 cut to 22 during defence cuts of 2010. Should also rethink the retirement of the C 130J Hercules

Expat
Expat
12 days ago

Now can we get some of those red dragon palletised cruise missiles the US just tested.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates
12 days ago

Wow. Most of you clearly have no clue how bad the A400M really is. All I see is paper stats. Yes it can fly higher further with more kit but that’s useless unless you can actually land it. The plane is trash. Getting rid of the hercs was a horrific idea.

A Z E V
A Z E V
14 hours ago
Reply to  Bill Gates

The plane itself isnt trash. It’s engineering support and the contractor backup is the joke.

Matthew Payne
Matthew Payne
12 days ago

Looks like the Austrian airforce will be flying second hand C130j Hecules in the next few years.

Derek
Derek
12 days ago

The Dakota could land in a field, could carry a hugely worthwhile load of troops or equipment, could be fixed with a spanner by one bloke with a shed and you had to physically beat it with iron bars to stop it taking off … and … in today’s world it is utterly and completely obsolete. Nostalgia has no place in modern warfare. I assume SF have tested A400 in various scenarios they are likely to need and they have planned forward for removal of Herc.

louis
louis
11 days ago
Reply to  Derek

Good analogy as RAF C130s have been flying for decades and are probably quite worn out after Afghanistan

Allan
Allan
12 days ago

Well, there is at least one and, possibly two general elections due in this decade. Two possible changes of government, two more possible defence “reviews” to go.
Add to which there are few votes to be had where military spending is required!
I’m not holding my breath!

Johan
Johan
11 days ago

There Could be a Third option available in 5 years. who knows LOL

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
11 days ago

Just a thought but are the french and Germans not getting c-130s? They operate the A400 already. Are they privy to some knowledge we have not considered

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
10 days ago

Are any other countries with Hercs set to give them up?