In May 2017, a Royal Air Force A400M Atlas has successfully conducted beach operations’ evaluation in Pembrey Sands – South Wales (UK) demonstrating the excellent behaviour and performance of the airlifter onto such a surface. The A400M is designed to operate from austere airfields, with unpaved and/or short runways, limited space for parking or manoeuvring and no ground handling facilities, conditions that present severe constraints for other tactical airlifters.
The Airbus A400M Atlas is a multi-national, four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. It was designed by Airbus Military (now Airbus Defence and Space) as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules. The A400M is positioned, in terms of size, between the C-130 and the C-17; it can carry heavier loads than the C-130, while able to use rough landing strips. Along with the transport role, the A400M can perform aerial refuelling and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment.
The A400M’s maiden flight, originally planned for 2008, took place on 11 December 2009 from Seville, Spain. Between 2009 and 2010, the A400M faced cancellation as a result of development programme delays and cost overruns; however, the customer nations chose to maintain their support of the project. A total of 174 A400M aircraft had been ordered by eight nations by July 2011. In March 2013, the A400M received European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification. The first aircraft was delivered to the French Air Force in August 2013.