Atlas is an extremely flexible aircraft that will provide both Tactical and Strategic Airlift Capability to all three Services in peace, crisis and war.
- Engines: Four EPI TP400-D6 turboprops
- Thrust: 11,000shp each
- Max speed: 0.72Mach
- Length: 43.8m
- Max altitude: 37,000ft
- Span: 42.4m
- Aircrew: 4
The mainstay of the RAF’S tactical and strategic airlift are the C-130 Hercules and C-17 aircraft. A total of 25 C-130K aircraft have been replaced by the C-130J and future plans include the replacement of the remainder of the fleet by 25 A400M outsize strategic –airlift aircraft in 2011. The A400M, which is a collaborative venture involving the governments and industries of six European countries, will support the deployment of the Joint Rapid Reaction Force and will give the RAF a tactical and strategic-airlift aircraft capable of supporting all three services. The aircraft will be capable of carrying a load of 32 tonnes over a range of 2300nmls at speeds comparable with pure-jet military transports; furthermore, the range of the aircraft can be extended by the use of a removable, air refuelling probe mounted above the cockpit. The aircraft will be capable of operating either at low-level (down to 150ft agl) or at high-level altitudes to 37,000ft, and it will be able to deploy troops and/or equipment between and within theatres of operation either by parachute (up to 108 paratroopers), or by landing on short, unprepared or semi-prepared strips. The aircraft will also offer significant improvements in reliability, maintenance and operating costs over the C-130K and J fleet.
The two-pilot flight deck crew will have the benefit of an integrated, digital avionics system in the cockpit and a fly-by-wire control system. Additional systems will provide a night-vision-compatible glass cockpit complete with two head-up displays supported by at least five multi-function displays that will allow state-of-the-art avionics developments to be incorporated to the flight-deck design, so greatly reducing crew workload. The aircraft will be driven by four Europrop International (EPI) turboprop engines, which will be the most powerful turboprops developed to date in the western world, they will be lighter, easy to maintain and will consume 20% less fuel per mission relative to a similar turbofan engine. A modern Defensive Aids Suite will be fitted, incorporating radio and infra-red frequency detectors, electronic-countermeasure equipment and chaff/flare dispensers.
The cargo bay of the A400M will be controlled by one air loadmaster and can be configured for a number of roles: pure troop carrying, or a mixture of troops and support equipment; palletised cargo or military wheeled and tracked vehicles; two attack helicopters such as the Apache or Puma; or a mixture of light and heavy engineering equipment. Offloading equipment or stores after landing can be achieved using conventional ground equipment, the aircraft’s internal load-roller system, by airborne parachute or by gravity extraction from the aircraft’s rear ramp.
In addition to its tactical capability A400M will complement the C-17 in providing the UK with a strategic airlift capability when and where it is required.
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