RAF A400M Goes Down Under
An uncharacteristically glorious day in Wellington, New Zealand, welcomed the RAF A400M to the antipodies where it would put on a show for the press, and later the public at Ohakea Air Tattoo where the Royal New Zealand Air Force were celebrating their 80th year.
The RAF A400M combines huge lifting power with agility, with manoeuvrability akin to a fast-jet rather than an Air Transport Aircraft. It is a phenomenally capable aircraft and able to fly at a staggering 170 degrees angle of bank.
Number LXX Squadron demonstrated the aircraft to Air Commodore Darryn Webb, the New Zealand Defence Force Air Component Commander on a short flight around New Zealand's stunning islands.
Following the flight Air Commodore Webb said, “It was magic. I was really impressed with the ease at which two pilots were able to operate the aircraft systems and converse with us simultaneously.”
“It’s hugely exciting to have the Royal Air Force here, we go back a long way, our pedigree stems from the British. We have close connections, working side by side in all parts of the Globe. It is a significant commitment to bring a team down.”
The RAF A400M, based at RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, is the newest aircraft in the RAF’s fleet. It boasts cutting edge technology, combined with sheer brute strength to make it a formidable strategic and tactical air lift platform. Able to deploy globally, it specialises in carrying over-sized loads and can transport a load of 25 tonnes over a range of 2,000 nautical miles.
Wing Commander Simon Boyle, Officer Commanding No. LXX Squadron said, “It is a real privilege to bring A400M Atlas to New Zealand for the first time, and to be able to share in the RNZAF’s 80th Anniversary Celebrations. Furthermore, with important military cargo delivered to numerous locations en-route it has also been a valuable opportunity to demonstrate the global reach that Atlas offers UK defence as we continue to advance the aircraft’s capabilities.”
Whilst in Ohakea the A400M ‘Atlas’ played host to a meeting between the Chief of the Royal New Zealand Air Force and the Chief of the Royal Air Force. After which gifts were exchanged and both thanked the crew and engineers for bringing the A400M ‘Atlas’ to Ohakea to celebrate a great partnership between the two nations.
Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Hillier said:
“As Chief of the Air Staff I am delighted the Royal Air Force has been able to come to New Zealand to help celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Royal New Zealand Air Force. We have a long and rich history together going back over decades, going back over operations, and everything we do today.”
“It’s a fantastic new capability for the Royal Air Force, showing our ability to deploy all the way from the UK to the other side of the world really underlines the Air Forces Global Mobility capability in support of operations wherever they might be. We get here quickly and effectively in this fantastic new aircraft.
Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies Chief of the Royal New Zealand Air Force said, “I did get to see the aircraft and have a good introduction with it last year. Wg Cdr Boyle kindly hosted me last July at LXX Squadron. I got to fly the simulator and go flying in the aircraft which was really impressive. Great range and payload. I am really envious that you’ve got them. This one has a lot of capability and a lot of credibility.”
“We have got a huge shared history together, our roots are from the RAF. It is very meaningful that on our 80th year the RAF is first and foremost the prime guests at our own party. To take the time and effort to come out here, especially for your CAS is really meaningful.”
The A400M ‘Atlas’ has clocked up 11500 miles since it left RAF Brize Norton less than 3 weeks ago, and headed to the Avalon Air Show in Australia after visiting Whenuapi.
There is a long-standing partnership between Australia and the UK, and the presence of the RAF A400M atlas from the UK is a clear demonstration of the commitment by the UK to the partnership.
Air Chief Marshall Sir Stephen Hillier, Chief of the Air Staff visited the aircraft to talk to the crew and engineers, he said, “Seeing the A400M ‘Atlas’ here in Australia. It demonstrates the quality of the RAFs Global reach and our Air Mobility capabilities…Our ability to fly this aircraft half way around the world is such an important demonstration of how important this aircraft is for the future of the RAF.”
“I would also like to offer my thanks and congratulations to Officer Commanding No. LXX Squadron, Wing commander Simon Boyle and all of the aircrew and engineers who are here in support of the A400M ‘Atlas’.
The aircraft has begun its journey back to the UK, picking up cargo on defence taskings along the way.