Atlas is coming into service as the 2nd Tranche replacement for the C130K to provide a tactical air lift and strategic oversize lift capability.
Operated by 2 pilots and a Weapons Systems Operator (Crewman) (WSOp (Cmn)), the aircraft has the ability to carry a 25-tonne payload over 2,000nm to established and remote civilian and military airfields, or by landing on short, unprepared or semi-prepared strips.
The A400M aircraft in RAF service will be named ATLAS and the RAF will take delivery of its first of 22 aircraft in Autumn 2014 with deliveries expected to be complete by 2019.
- Engines: Four EPI TP400-D6 turboprops
- Thrust: 11,000shp each
- Max speed: 410kts
- Length: 45.1m
- Max altitude: 40,000ft
- Span: 42.4m
- Aircrew: 3
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 and be interoperable with other nations.
The aircraft will be capable of carrying a load of 25 tonnes over a range of 2000nmls at speeds comparable with pure-jet military transports. It will be capable of operating either at low-level (down to 150ft agl) or at high-level altitudes to 40,000ft, 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. It will also offer significant improvements in reliability, maintenance and operating costs over the C-130J 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 ATLAS 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 ATLAS will complement the C-17 in providing the UK with a strategic airlift capability when and where it is required.