The UK Royal Air Force's first of an eventual 22 Airbus A400M tactical transports has touched down at its Brize Norton air base, having been accepted from the company's Defence & Space business unit in Seville, Spain.

Carrying the service registration ZM400, the RAF's lead "Atlas" arrived at its new home on 17 November, without being announced by the service, Ministry of Defence or the airframer. A formal delivery event is expected to be staged at the Oxfordshire site later this month.

A second A400M performed its flight debut for the UK last month, with Airbus expected to hand over this and a third example by the end of this year. With a useful maximum payload capacity of 32t, the Atlas will replace the RAF's already-retired Lockheed Martin C-130K Hercules.

The UK follows programme partners France and Turkey in taking delivery of the European airlifter, with Germany also set to accept its first example before the end of 2014. Other Atlas customers are Belgium, Luxembourg, Malaysia and Spain.

Source: Flight International