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The Airbus A400M Atlas is a four engine transport aircraft that has both tactical and strategic capabilities. Larger than a C-130 Hercules and smaller than the C-17, the A400M was originally developed to replace the Hercules and C-160 in European service. In addition to the transport role, the Atlas can be used as an aerial refuelling aircraft or for medical evacuation. The type has achieved limited export success, in addition to the original seven nations (Germany, France, Spain, UK, Turkey, Belgium, and Luxembourg) to order the Atlas, the aircraft has since been ordered by Malaysia, Kazakhstan and Indonesia.
Germany originally ordered a total of 60 aircraft but eventually reduced their order to 53 airframes however only 40 of these are in operation at one time. Whilst originally intended to replace the C-160 fleet, the German Air Force have also identified a requirement to maintain a smaller tactical airlifter capability and have therefore also ordered six C-130J Hercules including three KC-130J tankers as part of a joint fleet with France.
A single A400M provided by Lufttransportgeschwader 62 from Wunstorf in north-western Germany will appear in our flying display. The Atlas is taking part in our SKYTANKER theme and will be demonstrating its air-to-air refuelling capability whilst accompanied by a pair of Tornados from the German Air Force.
Photo Credit: Geert Van de Put