On February 14, the French Directorate General of Armaments (Direction générale de l’armement, DGA) took delivery of the 21st A400M Atlas aircraft produced by Airbus and intended for the French Air and Space Force. This program provides more than 10,000 direct jobs in Europe, including 2,400 in France. More than 80 companies are involved in the national territory, including several small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The aircraft benefits from the latest certified tactical capabilities, including terrain-following at very low altitude without visibility, a complete self-protection system against enemy threats and the full capability to drop paratroopers or cargo loads, by day or night, through both side doors and the rear ramp. It will soon fly to its home base in Orléans (Loiret).
The spearhead of our transport aviation, the A400M Atlas provides the services with an unrivaled capacity for tactical action in a contested environment, with the added benefit of a strategic range, allowing rapid intervention from the mainland to distant theatres. The aircraft also has the latest standard self-protection suite for better tactical engagement in a contested environment for its missions of airdropping equipment, paratroopers, or even landing assaults on any type of terrain. It benefits from automatic terrain-following capability at very low altitudes without visibility, a world first for a transport aircraft that bears witness to European excellence in terms of innovation.
Finally, the aircraft provides the crew with a wide range of airdrop capabilities. It allows the mixed release of loads by gravity and ejection, but also the combined release of equipment through the rear ramp and paratroops through the side doors. In the latter case, the use of the raswedge, a platform positioned on the ramp at the rear of the aircraft, makes it possible to drop 4 tonnes, considerably improving the quantity of equipment, food and supplies that can accompany paratroopers, while considerably lightening their individual load. All aircraft delivered since 2022 are provided in a final development standard. The program team and industry are working to complete the certification of the latest tactical capabilities.
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. In addition to its transport capabilities, the A400M can perform aerial refueling and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment. 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.