The UK has conducted trial equipment loading work using a full-scale mock-up of the Airbus Military A400M's cargo hold, with the process having demonstrated how the type could carry two of the British Army's new armoured vehicle types.

Performed recently, the work involved a 20t Ridgeback 6 x 6 patrol vehicle and a Panther command and liaison vehicle weighing 6.3t. "There is room and payload left for either two cargo pallets on the ramp, 48 passengers and two pallets of baggage, or a Land Rover loaded to the ramp," the Ministry of Defence says.

 UK vehicles A400M - Crown Copyright

© Crown Copyright
The two vehicles had a combined weight of over 26t

The A400M is required to have a useful cargo capacity of at least 32t under the terms of a seven-nation development and production contract signed in 2003. The UK is to receive 25 of the aircraft to replace its Lockheed Martin C-130Ks.

 Ridgeback vehicle - Crown Copyright
© Crown Copyright
The Ridgeback vehicle's 20t weight exceeds the C-130's cargo capacity

Airbus's fourth test aircraft, MSN004, will be the first A400M to have a production-representative cargo bay. Scheduled to fly for the first time in January 2011, it will be used for tasks including the development of cargo operations and procedures, with the work to be performed in Bremen, Germany.

Source: Flight International