Though no major announcement is expected at Farnborough, Airbus Military personnel at the show expect a full industrial launch of the A400M military freighter before the end of the year.

The A400M – originally known as the European Future Large Aircraft (FLA) – resulted from a joint European staff requirement issued by eight European nations in 1997.

This called for a new military tactical transport aircraft which would replace aircraft such as the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules and Aerospatiale/MBB C-160 Transall, but with a larger and more suitable cross-section to enable it to carry modern military loads.

The aircraft was also designed to have an important secondary in-flight refuelling tanker capability, with the ability to refuel both fast jets and much slower aircraft and helicopters.



The contract for 196 A400M airlifters was signed in Brussels on 18 December 2001, with OCCAR signing on behalf of the eight customer nations. Unfortunately, however, programme launch was dependant upon German parliamentary approval, which has been much delayed.

Programme insiders are now confident that this will be obtained, perhaps at the next budget meeting, but more likely after September's elections.


The programme is now said to enjoy all-party support, and all parties are reportedly in favour of Germany's planned take-up of all 73 aircraft contracted.

Meanwhile, some perceptions that the A400M was "another much-delayed European paper aeroplane" have been progressively reduced as detailed design has been undertaken, and as the aircraft's likely performance characteristics and potential operational flexibility have become apparent.

In the UK, the somewhat mixed experiences with the new generation C-130J have reduced the pressure for the RAF to procure a second batch of these aircraft to replace the remaining first-generation C-130Ks. Instead some have suggested that the existing C-130Js should be sold, and replaced by further Boeing C-17 Globemaster IIIs, pending the arrival of the A400M.

Source: Flight Daily News