Future Large Aircraft - FLA
Avion de Transport Futur - ATF
|Germany||53 + 7 options|
|TOTAL [July 2012]||174 + 7 options|
An important argument in favor of the A400M is the changed geopolitical situation on account of which crisis-oriented and quick-reaction air transport increasingly gains in importance. As a result, the demand for transport aircraft for humanitarian and military applications, as for instance for UNO and NATO missions, continued to grow. Another reason lies in the fact that transporters such as the Transall C-160 and the Hercules C-130 which today are in operation throughout Europe will gradually have to be replaced with new aircraft.
The A400M is a military transport aircraft designed to meet the requirements of eight European Air Forces (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom) to replace their fleets of C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall. These aircraft are currently in service and will become obsolete in the next century. With the A400M, the goal is to standardize Europe's fleet of tactical transports. The relatively larger production run allows greater production rates which will then reduce the prices per aircraft for airframe, engines and spare parts. Moreover, this will provide for an improved interoperability level and the option of consolidating major maintenance operations in a joint industrial consortium. The harmonized military requirements of eight countries have been published in the "European Staff Requirement" (ESR).
The total number of aircraft required by these countries amounted to approximately 300. The A400M began 1982 as the British Aerospace / Aerospatiale / MBB / Lockheed Future International Military Airlifter (FIMA) program. Requirements were originally stated as 297 aircraft—75 for Germany, 50 for France, 45 for the UK, 44 for Italy, 36 for Spain, 26 for Turkey, 12 for Belgium, and nine for Portugal. FIMA became the Euroflag Future Large Aircraft (FLA), which was turned over to prime contractor Airbus Industrie in September 1994. At the July 2000 Farnborough Air Show, a joint declaration indicated an intent to buy a total of 225 European A400M military transport aircraft. The nations intend to procure, in an initial order, aircraft in the following numbers which will be sufficient to launch the program; Belgium 7 aircraft, France 50 aircraft, Germany 73 aircraft, Italy 16 aircraft, Luxembourg 1 aircraft in close co-operation with Belgium, Spain 27 aircraft, Turkey 26 aircraft and the United Kingdom 25 aircraft.
Following discussions, OCCAR (Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en Matière d'Armement), representing Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and United Kingdom signed the A400M program contract on December 18, 2001, committing to a total of 196 aircraft. This number was subsequently been revised downwards in the light of budgetary constraints, In December 2002 Berlin decided that it would cut its order for the Airbus A400M from 73 to 60. This was certain to raise the overall costs for all eight European countries involved in its production.
CASA, Aerospatiale, Airbus, Alenia, British Aerospace, DASA, Flabel, Ogma and TAI are taking part in A400M (anteriormente FLA, Future Large Aircraft) program under the management of Airbus Military. The company's responsibility is to manage the development program of the Airbus A400M military transport, formerly known as the FLA (Future Large Aircraft). The new designation denotes that the aircraft is the first of a new series of military transports, complementary to the existing range of civil airliners produced by Airbus Industrie.
In 1994 the UK decided to procure 25 C130J Hercules aircraft from Lockhead Martin as a first tranche replacement for its ageing C130K Hercules aircraft. The UK also rejoined the European program to determine the scope for replacing the remainder of the C130K fleet with the proposed Future Large Aircraft (now A400M). A competition was conducted by 4 of the 7 nations to consider the Boeing C-17 and Lockhead Martin C130J alongside the A400M.
The Strategic Defence Review (SDR) issued by the British Government in July 1998 made a very strong case for the need for a dramatically improved air transport capability to support the proposed Joint Rapid Reaction Forces. However, as of early 1999 the French Air Force was considering a range of options for a new military transport aircraft, including the Airbus Future Large Aircraft, the Russian An-70 and a mix of C-17s and C-130Js. Lockheed Martin proposed the C-130J-30 to Belgium, France, Spain and the UK in competition with the proposed European Airbus A400M.
Germany led a NATO partnership that would lease up to 20 C-17 or An-124 airlifters for use until the A400M was in full production. This would be the airlift-equivalent of NATO's E-3 Airborne Warning and Control System squadron. This initiative could see NATO either lease or purchase a squadron of heavy-lift aircraft, with the Boeing C-17 and the Ukrainian Antonov An-124 in the frame. While the latter candidate may prove politically attractive to Berlin, the C-17 option will provide interoperability with the US Air Force. The British have four C-17 aircraft on lease from Boeing, ostensibly as a stopgap until the A400M is delivered.
The European home market for FLA represents some 300 aircraft. Outside Europe a sizeable market can be identified for a military transport aircraft in the FLA category.
A total of 184 aircraft had been ordered as of 2009 by Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom. In November 2009 South Africa cancelled a multi-billion dollar contract for eight A400Ms, citing escalating costs and delivery delays. The aircraft was due to enter service with air forces in 2009, but this has now been put back to 2013.
The A400M was designed to be the most reliable airlifter ever. By using proven Airbus commercial design concepts and tools, its availability benefits from high component reliability. Its new maintenance concept, which is largely inspired from commercial civil airliner experience, will translate into a very high dispatch reliability of 98.7 per cent at entry into service. This will dramatically reduce life cycle costs. Over twelve years of operation, the mandatory heavy maintenance “down-time” will only require the A400M to be on the ground for only 84 days in total.
Thanks to its superior performance and capabilities, a fleet of eight A400Ms offers the same productivity (measured in tonnes per nm each year) as a fleet of eighteen previous generation tactical airlifters. The Life Cycle Cost of these eighteen previous generation tactical airlifters is 55% higher than the one of the eight A400M fleet and they are unable to transport outsize loads such as helicopters or armoured vehicles including Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, which can be transported by the A400M.
By 2016 German parliamentary and military circles were giving consideration to ordering another, smaller transport aircraft, in addition to the A400M. In 2021, the last C-160 Transall — a two-engine transporter smaller than the Hercules — was to retire, and Germany would encounter what officials considered a capability gap.
Germany's A400M program was years behind schedule, with the federal government's share of the costs having risen from an initial estimate of 8.1 billion euros to 9.6 billion euros.
Germany was the largest customer of A400M planes, having initially agreed to purchase 53 of them from Airbus. The Defense Ministry maintained that it had a good contract with Airbus that allows it to demand compensation for delays and other technical issues. The A400M was due to completely replace the older "Transall" aircraft by 2018, though by 2017 officials expected that transition to be completed by 2022 at the latest.
Germany was looking to maintain access to more A400M planes through a pooling agreement with several countries, backtracking on initial plans to sell 13 of the 52 it had agreed to buy.
Airbus had been discussed for years as the best military transport aircraft in its class: The A400M can theoretically carry far more cargo over longer distances and at higher speed transport than comparable machines. France already had the smaller Airbus competitor, the Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules. It was ordered because it can refuel any helicopter in flight, while the A400M currently cannot, though this was initially planned.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|