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Third A400M arrives for RAF duty

The UK Royal Air Force has taken delivery of its latest example of the A400M tactical transport, with ZM403 being its third of an eventual 22 aircraft to enter service.

A flight crew from the RAF's 206(R) Sqn performed the A400M's 2.5h transfer from Airbus Defence & Space's final assembly in Seville, Spain to Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on 5 July, the service says.

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ZM403 is the RAF's second A400M delivery of the year, with its arrival having been delayed by a grounding period imposed following the crash of an "Atlas" in Seville on 9 May. UK operations with the type resumed on 16 June.

"Having now undertaken and completed thorough checks on the UK's A400M aircraft, I am satisfied that we have fulfilled and allowed for the safe delivery of this third aircraft," says chief of defence materiel Sir Bernard Gray.

Being acquired to replace the RAF's already-retired Lockheed Martin C-130Ks, the UK's A400Ms will "over the next 12 months be capable of delivering a wide range of loads, as well as carrying out free-fall and static-line parachuting," the service says. Its first two examples had accumulated a combined 405 flying hours prior to the pause in operations introduced earlier this year.

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