The Belgian Air Component (BAC, Luchtcomponent, Composante air) has received into service its second Airbus Defence and Space (DS) A400M Atlas transport aircraft, bringing the number it now operates as a joint unit with Luxembourg to three. Aircraft CT-03 arrived at Melsbroek, the military area of Brussels airport, on 4 March. The BAC will operate a total of seven A400Ms, including one purchased by Luxembourg. The Belgian Air Component’s 15th Air Transport Wing will field the fleet under the auspices of the joint Belgian-Luxembourg Bi-National Unit (BNU). These aircraft will be made available to the European Air Transport Command and through that the European Rapid Reaction Force.
In mid-June 2001, Belgium and Luxembourg signed a bilateral agreement between to jointly acquire seven Airbus A400M military transport aircraft for Belgium and one for Luxembourg. In 2020, the Belgian Air Component had taken delivery of its first of seven Airbus A400M military transport aircraft. The aircraft was handed over to the customer at the A400M Final Assembly Line in Seville (Spain) and subsequently performed its ferry flight to the 15th Wing Air Transport in Melsbroek (Belgium), where the aircraft will be based. This A400M, known as MSN106, will be operated within a binational unit composed of a total of eight aircraft, seven from the Belgian Air Force and one from the Luxembourg Armed Forces.
Under the operational control of the European Air Transport Command (EATC), the BNU A400M conducts missions on behalf of Belgium and Luxembourg and for the six EATC member nations as well as for the 30 NATO Allies and the European Union member states under the Movement Coordination Centre Europe. The first military transport aircraft owned and operated by Luxembourg is a great increase in the Ally’s military capabilities. Luxembourg contributes to NATO among others by having the NATO Airborne Early Warning and Control Force aircraft registered to its flag. It is also a member of the Multinational MRTT Unit with a Main Operating Base at Eindhoven, the Netherlands, and a Forward Operating Base at Cologne, Germany.
The Airbus A400M Atlas is a European four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft. The aircraft recently achieved additional capabilities such as simultaneous paratrooper dispatch for a maximum of 116 paratroopers using the side doors, automatic low level flight in visual meteorological conditions, and aerial delivery and combat off-load that allows a single 16-tonne load to be dropped automatically via parachute extraction. In addition, 25 tonnes can be gravity dropped and the manual combat offload of up to 19 tonnes on pallets or 25 tonnes on an unpaved runway is possible. With regards to helicopter air-to-air refuelling operations, the A400M recently achieved the first successful wet contacts with a H225M helicopter.