Royal Air Force Brize Norton A400M Atlas Aircraft Flies Non-Stop from UK to Guam
Royal Air Force Brize Norton A400M Atlas Aircraft Flies Non-Stop from UK to Guam

Royal Air Force Brize Norton A400M Atlas Aircraft Flies Non-Stop from UK to Guam

A Royal Air Force Brize Norton A400M Atlas aircraft has carried out the longest ever flight by this aircraft type to start the RAF deployment for Exercise Mobility Guardian 23. The Atlas departed RAF Brize Norton, on the 3 July and flew non-stop for 20 hours 36mins to Guam, being refuelled on the way three times, once over the Atlantic, once over Alaska and finally over the Pacific Ocean. During the flight the route also took the Atlas closer to the North pole over the Arctic ice cap than any previous flight by this aircraft type. The first refuelling was carried out by a Voyager from 10/101 Squadron flying from the UK and the second and third refuelling being carried out by a second Voyager that was operating from the United States Airforce Eilson Airbase in Alaska. On arrival in Guam, the Atlas together with a RAF Voyager, elements from the Tactical Medical Wing and other supporting personnel from across the RAF will join the exercise.

Air Commodore Anthony Lyle, the RAF’s Air Mobility Force Commander, said: “Exercise Mobility Guardian is an outstanding training opportunity for the Air Mobility Force; it allows us to demonstrate the speed, reach and utility of the RAF, underpinned by the assets from the Air Mobility Force, and reinforces our ability to rapidly conduct global Air Operations. The non-stop flight of the A400M Atlas from RAF Brize Norton to Guam is a great example of our ability to project air power, allowing us to get aircraft, crews and vital equipment to the other side of the world in a timely manner and for them to be able to operate immediately.”

In addition to the strategic demonstration of the UK’s commitment to operate in the region, Flight Lieutenant Andy York, from Voyager Force Training Flight said: “From an aircrew perspective this has been a challenging and rewarding sortie for all, to enable long-range projection of the RAF Air Mobility Fleet. The planning has been significant as well as the benefits of exercising long-range strategic air to air refuelling with another large aircraft type, conducted from forward-operating airports.”

Flying non-stop from RAF Brize Norton to Guam, a Royal Air Force A400M has made the longest non-stop flight to date for the aircraft. Three in-flight refuelings were carried out during its 20-hour flight. (Photo by Royal Air Force)
Flying non-stop from RAF Brize Norton to Guam, a Royal Air Force A400M has made the longest non-stop flight to date for the aircraft. Three in-flight refuelings were carried out during its 20-hour flight. (Photo by Royal Air Force)

In addition to the US aircraft taking part in Mobility Guardian, the RAF detachment will be joined by aircraft and personnel from Australia, Canada, France, Japan, and New Zealand. The exercise is the latest example of the importance that the UK gives to this region as the training area stretches from Northern Australia to Japan and then across the Pacific to Hawaii. The object of the exercise is for the countries involved to develop their interoperability skills and understanding and so to be able to deliver Air Power if required and overcome the concept of ‘The Tyranny of Distance’. During the exercise it is planned that sorties will be flown from and to Japan. Such activities by the RAF demonstrate the UK’s commitment to the recently signed Hiroshima Accord between the UK and Japan. This accord emphasises that the security and prosperity of the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions are inseparable. The UK and Japan by strengthening shared security capabilities help safeguard global peace and stability.

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 can use rough landing strips. In addition to its transport capabilities, the A400M can perform aerial refueling and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment. The Airbus A400M provides substantial improvements to payload, range, internal volume and operational capacity over the Transall C-160 and Lockheed C-130 that it replaces or augments. It can carry up to 37 metric tons (41 short tons) over 2,000 nmi (3,700 km; 2,300 mi). The cargo box is 17.71 m (58.1 ft) long excluding ramp, 4.00 m (13.12 ft) wide, and 3.85 m (12.6 ft) high (or 4.00 m (13.12 ft) aft of the wing) and can be configured to transport cargo, military personnel, drop paratroops, conduct medical evacuations or carry out aerial refuelling. It can operate out of short, soft landing strips and fly long-range cargo.

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