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A400M – Delivery to the point of need

54. A400M

The A400M is the proven, certified and in operations Most Advanced Airlifter with 21st Century State-of-the-Art Technologies. The A400M can airlift in its large cargo hold most of the critical armed forces equipment which do not fit anymore in previous generation tactical airlifters such as an heavy helicopter or an heavy infantry fighting vehicle or an heavy humanitarian excavator. Thanks to its Combined Strategic and Tactical Capabilities, the A400M has proven better range/ speed/ altitude/ payload/ tactical performance than previous generation tactical airlifters enabling the delivery of Game-Changing Capabilities to the Point of Need that is to say next to a natural disaster or a theatre of operations where strategic airlifters cannot operate. The A400M enables cost-effective and rapid response to crises.

The A400M was launched in May 2003 to respond to the combined needs of seven European Nations regrouped within OCCAR (Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemburg, Spain, Turkey and the UK), with Malaysia joining in 2005. 2009The A400M made its first flight on 11 December 2009. The first production aircraft was delivered to the French Air Force in August 2013 and in service a year after. The A400M already has seen operational use with the French and Turkish Air Forces in Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, African’ Sahel Region, Mali and in the Middle East to support the air operations over Iraq and Syria.



Design Philosophy.

Previous generation tactical airlifters have good tactical performance but cannot carry the outsize military and humanitarian relief loads because their cargo holds are too small. Current strategic aircraft are good outsize-load airlifters but are costly and have limited tactical capability as they cannot operate from soft fields. The A400M is a larger, more modern, truly versatile aircraft specifically designed for today’s requirements and those of the future. Thanks to its good tactical performance and the ability to carry outsize loads over long distances, the A400M fills the current logistic and tactical capability gap. Its cargo hold has an inside usable width of four metres / 13ft 1in, height of up to four metres / 13ft 1in, and usable length of 17.70 metres / 58 ft.

Cargo Hold

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Heavy and Outsize Loads.

With a maximum payload of up to 37 tonnes (81 600 lb) and a volume of 340 m3(12,000 ft3), the A400M can carry numerous pieces of outsize cargo including, vehicles and helicopters that are too large or too heavy for previous generation tactical airlifters, for example, an NH90 or a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, or an heavy infantry fighting vehicle for military purposes. It can also carry a heavy logistic truck, or a rescue boat, or large lifting devices, such as excavators or mobile cranes needed to assist in disaster relief.

Personnel and Troops.

The large cargo hold can accommodate 116 fully equipped troops or paratroops, seated in four longitudinal rows:



  • 54 sidewall seats permanently installed in the cargo hold can be easily folded against the sidewalls.
  • Two-centreline seat rows (62 seats) are fully removable to clear space for cargo. 
  • On-board the A400M, troops feel comfortable over long distances and are rested and fresh for immediate action upon arrival thanks to the low noise & vibration levels in the cargo hold and the optimised air conditioning system.

Strategic (High Speed, High Level and Long Range) Performance


High Speed / High Altitude Thanks to its state of the art technologies, including its four unique EuroProp International (EPI) TP 400 turboprops, the A400M has the capability to fly distances up to 4,800 nm / 8,900 km, at a cruising altitude up to 37,000 ft (11,300 m), and at a speed of up to Mach 0.72, very similar to that of a turbofan powered airlifter. It can even fly up to 40,000 ft (12,200 m) for special operations.

This gives the potential for strategic/logistic missions. Flying faster and higher, can respond more rapidly to crises, because greater distances can be flown in a one crew duty day. The A400M is hence much more efficient than its predecessors. Also, as it can fly higher, it can cruise above poor weather and turbulence of found at medium altitudes, resulting in less fatigue for the crews, and passengers or troops alike.

Long Range The A400M provides a new standard of performance for tactical airlifters, and offers global reach at high speed, whilst still retaining the capability of landing at austere airfields.With a typical payload of 20 tonnes (44 000 lb) allowing to airlift a Cat II MRAP, troops and pallets over an operating range of 3,400 nm (6,300 km), the A400M provides a true strategic range capability.

With its maximum payload of 37 tonnes (81,600 lb) allowing to airlift an heavy mobile crane, personnel and military pallets, the A400M has an operating range of 1780 nm (3,300 km).

Tactical Performance


Short Unpaved Airstrip Performance

The A400M is the only large airlifter that can fly heavy and outsize equipment directly to the point of need. The A400M is designed to operate efficiently from austere airfields, with unpaved airstrips, short runways, limited space for parking or manoeuvring and no ground facilities, conditions that present severe constraints for any tactical airlifter. The ability to use unpaved airstrips close to the final destination saves precious time in the delivery of heavy equipment, personnel or supplies and allows bypassing of intermediate airports that may be congested during times of crisis. As on turboprops like the EuroProp EPI TP400 Turboprops, the inlets are smaller than on turbofan engines and the propeller serves as a first line of defence, turboprop engines are less subject to foreign object debris (FOD) including sand dust particles.

Thanks to the design of its 12-wheel High Flotation Main Landing Gear and the robustness of its structure and systems the A400M offers unprecedented tactical capabilities in the heavy segment.
The A400M is therefore able to land on, and take-off from, any short, soft and rough unprepared CBR 6 airstrip, no longer than 750 m / 2,500 ft, while delivering up to 25 tonnes / 55,000 lb of payload, and with enough fuel on board for a 930 km / 500 nm return trip.

Autonomous Ground Operations

The autonomous capability of the A400M enables operations from remote austere airstrips. By minimising time on the ground, the A400M’ systems reduce the aircraft’s vulnerability to hostile action. The state-of-the-art digital Load Master Work Station (LMWS) enables full management of the Cargo Handling System and monitoring of aerial delivery operations. The cargo floor can be re-configured very quickly as rollers can be manually and easily turned upside down by a single operator in order to have either rollers down for flat floor configuration or rollers up for pallet configuration. The main landing gear can be kneeled to lower the rear of the aircraft in order to adjust the height from cargo floor to ground and reduce the crest angle formed between the Ramp and the Cargo Floor when the Ramp is deployed to the ground.


Designed from the outset to be a dual-role transport and tanker aircraft, the A400M provides air forces with a cost- effective way to acquire an air-to-air (AAR) refuelling capability in addition to a versatile logistic and tactical airlifter.

The standard A400M aircraft has much of the equipment and software provisions for 2-point air-to-air refuelling operations already installed as standard. Any A400M can be rapidly reconfigured to become a tactical 2-point tanker able to refuel probe-equipped receivers at their preferred speeds and altitudes.

With a basic fuel capacity of 63,500 litres (50,800 kg) which can be even further increased with additional Cargo Hold Tanks, the A400M is the most capable tactical tanker on the market.

Air-to-air refuelling systems


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Air-to-Air Refuelling can be done either through two wing mounted hose and drogue under-wing refuelling pods or through a centre-line.

The two hose and drogue under-wing refuelling pods can each provide a fuel flow of up to 400 US gal / 1,200 kg per minute to receiver aircraft. Refuelling can also be done through a centre-line Hose and Drum Unit (HDU) which provides a higher fuel flow of some 600 US gal / 1,800 kg per minute. The A400M is the only tactical tanker offering a third refuelling point for large aircraft refuelling and as an alternative to pods.
To monitor day and night Air-to-Air Refuelling operations, the A400M can be fitted with three cameras controlled from the cockpit by the co-pilot, suppressing the need for visual observers.

Refuelling any Probe-Equipped Aircraft


The A400M is the only Tanker which can refuel the entire range of probe-equipped military aircraft at their preferred speeds and altitudes. Thanks to its powerful turboprops it can fly both at the low speeds and low altitudes to refuel slow receivers as well as at higher speeds and altitudes of about 300 knots and altitudes around 25,000 ft which are typically used for refuelling of fast jets, such as fighters (such as the Eurofighter) or large aircraft (such as the C295) or even another A400M for buddy refuelling.

The A400M can be equipped to receive fuel via an optional nose probe mounted above the cockpit thus providing truly global reach for transport or tanking missions. The nose probe allows the A400M to be refuelled from tankers equipped with a centreline refuelling like the A330 MRTT or even another A400M.

To do so, the A400M receiver is equipped with a refuelling probe mounted above the cockpit. This increases the range and enduration of the A400M. The probe can easily be removed when it is not needed.

operational flexibility


Airdrop. The A400M excels in the airdrop role, being able to drop from both high and low altitudes. With the new A400M, which can carry more paratroopers than other Western-built military transport, Airbus Defence and Space is setting new standards in paradropping operations.


The A400M can accommodate up to 116 fully equipped paratroopers, carrying them to the drop zone at speeds up to 300kt, but dropping them at as little as 110kt to ensure minimum dispersion. Crucially, two streams of paratroopers can jump simultaneously from the ramp or the two side doors to further cut jumping time and scatter. Careful aerodynamic design reduces turbulence behind the aircraft and deployable baffles at the door exits protect jumpers from the airflow. The aircraft is also fitted with a winch, allowing any ´hung-up´ static-line paratrooper to be safely retrieved. The type’s low speed characteristics make the A400M ideal for dropping supplies from low altitude. The A400M can assure a very rapid and direct response to any occurrence, making it the ideal tactical airlifter. The A400M can airdrop up to 25 tonnes / 55 100 lb of containers or pallets through gravity and parachute extraction. The Computed Air Release Point (CARP) linked to the Automated Release System, automatically computes the release point for optimum delivery accuracy, including corrections for wind effects.

Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC)


The A400M is equipped with eight stretchers as standard which are permanently stored on board, but it can accommodate as many as 66 standard NATO stretchers and 25 medical personnel seated on troop seats. It has the range, speed, operating altitude and comfort to optimally serve the medevac role.




The A400M has been specifically designed for low detectability, low vulnerability and high survivability. Its high manoeuvrability, its enhanced low level flight capability, its steep descent and climb performance, as well as its short landing and take-off performance, its damage tolerant flight controls, its armoured cockpit and bullet-resistant windscreens, the use of inerting gas in the fuel tanks as well as the segregated routing of hydraulics and wiring give it excellent self-protection and survivability. With its minimal infra-red signature EPI TP 400 turboprops, highly responsive fly-by-wire flight controls, four independent control computers, comprehensive defensive aids, and damage tolerant controls, the A400M is hard to find, hard to hit and hard to kill.

state-of-the-art technology

EuroProp EPI TP400, the Most Powerful Turboprop in Production


One of the key elements of the A400M´s versatility is its all-new, specifically designed three-shaft turboprop engine with eight bladed propellers. The 11,000 shp TP400- developed by EuroProp International (EPI), a consortium comprising Rolls Royce, Snecma, MTU and ITP, is the most powerful turboprop in production. It allows a wide range of speeds and flight levels and offers extremely efficient fuel consumption. Powered by four of these turboprops, the A400M can cruise at altitudes as high as 37,000 ft at speeds up to Mach 0.72. This will permit the aircraft to fly above adverse medium level weather conditions and to be integrated into the commercial aircraft airspace. At the other end of the speed / range envelope, the A400M is capable of flying at low speed to drop equipment and supplies.


The down between the engines counter-rotation of the propellers, which turn in opposite directions, allows a structural weight reduction. The arrangement preserves the symmetry of the aircraft when the four engines are operating, and reduces the adverse yaw in case of an engine failure, allowing in turn a reduction in the size of the tail fin by 17 per cent, hence reducing weight and drag. Another consequence has been the possibility to improve by four per cent the lift at low speed and thus to simplify the slats and, as a result, reduce by eight per cent the surface of the horizontal stabilizer. Furthermore, it also reduces the level of vibrations and therefore the noise inside the aircraft.

State-of-the-Art Cockpit

The A400M features two Head-up-Dispay (HUD) which provide the pilots with all primary flight information together with Flight Director orders and flight guidance during critical mission phases, such as landing at unequipped airfields, in-flight refuelling or low-level flight. The A400M cockpit also features eight large interchangeable liquid crystal head-down displays. Six of these – three for each pilot – feature primary flight displays, navigation displays, management or video, while two are for the systems monitoring. These Flight Management System (FMS) screens are controlled through alpha-numeric keyboards for simpler entering of data. The optional Enhanced Vision System (EVS) based on Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) technology generates a sensor based image of the environment in front of the aircraft in low visibility conditions. The EVS image is displayed on the HUD to provide the pilots with additional visual cues.

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Another key feature of the A400M is its computerized “fly-by-wire” flight controls already widely used on other state of the art civil transport aircraft. Replacing the conventional cables and pulleys by electrical wires linked to four independent flight control computers which send signals to actuators, not only reduces weight, but also maintenance time. This also gives a much greater precision to the commands. Furthermore, when in normal flight law, fly-by-wire controls permit the implementation of “flight envelope protection” which, by preventing the aircraft from stalling, allows the pilot to achieve optimum performance in a critical escape manoeuvre by simply pulling full stick back. The fly-by-wire system then manages the whole aircraft configuration accordingly. The fly-by-wire flight envelope protection is a great contributor to the survivability of the aircraft in a hostile environment, enabling the aircraft to achieve extreme escape manoeuvres. Thanks to fly-by-wire, the cumbersome central control column can be replaced by light and easy to handle side-stick-controllers, providing the pilots with a free view to the large TV-like screens in front of them, while also allowing for a foldable table to be pulled out as needed.


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In order to reduce weight, 30 per cent of the A400M’s structure is made of composites. These parts include most of the wing, with, for the first time in history, composite main spars. Also, nearly the entire tail (the horizontal and vertical stabilizers and the control surfaces), the rear cargo door, the sponsons (undercarriage bays) and the propeller blades (with Kevlar shell) are made of composite. The wing’s 19 m / 62 ft skin panels are the largest ever produced. The extensive use of composite material enables the A400M to be much lighter, enabling to enhance its performance both in terms of range and payload.


Extensive use of advanced 3D computational fluid dynamics tools optimised the wing shape, resulting in a low drag design and thus a high speed cruise of Mach 0.72, without compromising low speed performance and handling.The A400M designers have also taken into account all the aerodynamic refinements that allow it to fly more smoothly and more efficiently. But they have also considered some very specific military needs. For example, the sponsons have been shaped to reduce air turbulence aft of the ramp in such a way that paratroopers can jump simultaneously through the two dedicated side doors or through the ramp, without them running the risk of colliding with each other because of the air-flow behind the aircraft. This reduces the time to exit the aircraft by half and allows the paratroopers to reach the ground closer together and hence regroup more easily and be operational faster.

cost efectiveness

Reliability. To achieve the highest availability and lowest Life Cycle Costs, the A400M In Service Support was addressed from programme start.Thus, compared to other tactical transports and strategic airlifters, the A400M will have higher availability and lower life-cycle costs.

A400M features and the Airbus Defence & Space In Service Support are based on proven Airbus methods and procedures resulting in both operational and economic benefits:

  • Autonomous operations for extended periods of time while deployed away from base
  • Purpose-designed for deployed operations: 15 days maintenance free operating period and 150 days / 500 flying hours without scheduled maintenance
  • Maintenance dowtime: 50 days in 5 years

Lower Life Cycle Cost and Higher Productivity.

Thanks to its superior performance and capabilities, a fleet of 8 A400Ms has the same productivity (measured in tonne nm per year) as a fleet of 18 previous generation tactical airlifters. The A400M fleet offers 35% lower Life Cycle Costs than these 18 previous generation tactical airlifters and can transport outsize loads such as helicopters or heavy armoured vehicles including Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles. With a payload nearly twice that of the previous generation tactical airlifter, the A400M offers 40% lower flight hour cost per tonne airlifted.

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