The first Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) A400M upgraded with tactical capabilities has returned to Malaysia. The upgrades were implemented by Airbus in Seville, enabling the aircraft to perform new missions such as aerial delivery, full paratrooper deployment or low level flight. With more than 10,000 flight hours achieved by its fleet, the RMAF is also the A400M fleet leader, having the aircraft with more flight hours and flight cycles accumulated among the A400M customers. As fleet leader, the RMAF fleet provides a valuable reference for all existing A400M customers and Airbus.
In operation with the RMAF since 2015, the A400M has already changed the customer’s airlift operative, playing a key role in all mission types, including cargo and personnel transport, humanitarian and disaster relief missions, transport of heavy equipment, support to the national strategy in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic, medical transport, as well as air-to-air refuelling operations. The RMAF became the programme’s first export customer and is the first A400M operator in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Airbus A400M Atlas is a European 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 sized between the C-130 and the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III; it can carry heavier loads than the C-130 and is able to use rough landing strips. Along with the transport role, the A400M can perform aerial refueling and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment.
The maximum payload of 37 metric tons (41 short tons) can be carried over 2,000 nmi (3,700 km; 2,300 mi). The A400M operates in many configurations including cargo transport, troop transport, and medical evacuation. It is intended for use on short, soft landing strips and for long-range, cargo transport flights. The A400M is large enough to carry six Land Rovers and trailers, or two light armored vehicles, or a dump truck and excavator, or a Patriot missile system, or a Puma or Cougar helicopter, or a truck and 25-ton trailer. It features a fly-by-wire flight control system with sidestick controllers and flight envelope protection.