Atlas Times Two For Air Tattoo
Published: 25 Jun 2015
The RAF's new-generation transport aircraft, the Airbus A400M Atlas, will be present in force at the Air Tattoo. Not only will the aircraft's manufacturer, Airbus Defence and Space provide a spectacular flying display, but a newly-delivered Royal Air Force example will also be present on static display. This will be as the centrepiece of the RAF Village and visitors will be able to get access to the back of the aircraft for the first time at an airshow.
The four-turboprop airlifter first flew towards the tail end of 2009, and is now entering service with France, Turkey and the United Kingdom. It is becoming an increasingly familiar sight in the skies around Fairford, as the RAF inducts the aircraft into service with Nos 24 and 70 Squadrons at nearby Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. The first of 22 aircraft for the RAF arrived last November, and deliveries of the whole fleet are expected to be completed by 2019.
The A400M combines the attributes of a tactical airlifter, in being able to operate from short, unprepared strips, with the long-range strategic capabilities of heavy jet transports. The RAF will gradually expand the type's tactical capabilities as it gets ready to retire the C-130J Hercules from service in 2022. No 24 Squadron is the RAF's Fixed-Wing Air Mobility Operational Conversion Unit, while No 70 Squadron is the service's first operational Atlas unit. This summer it is scheduled to take on its initial airlift taskings.
In the air, visitors will have the chance to see test pilots from Airbus Defence and Space performing flying demonstrations with one of the manufacturer's aircraft. These are always very impressive affairs, the A400M's agility belying its considerable size.
Air Tattoo chief executive Andy Armstrong said: "We are delighted that next month, we'll witness such a show of strength by this impressive airlifter. To have the public debut of an RAF Atlas is sure to be a major occasion."