A400M Gets Military Ticket, but French Still Not Satisfied
On behalf of the seven European nations buying the Airbus Military A400M, the French government defense procurement agency (French acronym DGA) announced that the new airlifter had achieved military certification. The DGA is the technical lead for the government partners on the program and has supervised the work of 15 multinational groups of officials who examined the aircraft’s capabilities in such areas as avionics, electronic warfare and human factors. The A400M achieved European civil type certification last March. It is the world’s first large military transport to be designed and certified to civil standards from its inception, according to Airbus Military.
However, the first production aircraft (MSN7) has still not been accepted by the French air force. A DGA spokesman told AIN that two more steps are required before this can happen: the Paris-based multinational A400M procurement agency (French acronym OCCAR) must issue a military qualification confirming that Airbus Military has met the contractually required specifications and the DGA must conduct an aircraft acceptance on MSN7. DGA experts are now at Airbus Military’s factory in Seville to do this, and delivery of the aircraft is expected “in the coming weeks,” the spokesman added. Airbus Military had been hoping to deliver MSN7 by June. Despite the delay, the aircraft did appear over Paris on July 14 as part of the French air force flypast to mark Bastille Day. Earlier, President Hollande flew into the Paris Air Show on one of the development aircraft. Airbus Military displayed the second production aircraft (MSN8, also for the French air force) at the show.
Meanwhile, the fifth development aircraft has been flying in the UK. It first went to the Boscombe Down test site, where it demonstrated airfield assault capability. A British Army Scimitar armored reconnaissance vehicle and weapons-mounted support vehicle with trailers were unloaded, with aircraft engines still running. Airbus Military noted that up to 60 troops could also have been deployed from the same aircraft, to secure a bridgehead airfield.
The aircraft then appeared at the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford, where it performed solo displays and appeared in formation with the Royal Air Force demonstration team, the Red Arrows.