The first Airbus Military A400M for the French Air Force is taking shape in Seville (Spain), where its final assembly line (FAL) is located. The final assembly process for this aircraft, known as MSN7, started last November. The nose and fuselage are already integrated and the aircraft was recently moved, on its landing gear, to the workstation in which the structural assembly is carried out. Integration works for the wing started last week and both the horizontal and the vertical tailplanes, which have already been mated, have just been moved to the final assembly station, known as Station 40, with the rest of the aircraft. The A400M will then be powered up for the first time before the aircraft is moved to the Ground System Tests area.
This aircraft, the first one in the series production, will be delivered to France around the turn of the year 2012-2013.
The photograph shows A400M MSN7 in Station 40, at the A400M FAL in Seville.
Credit: Airbus Military
The United States has inherited and chosen to pursue the specialized aircraft route to airlift and tanking; Airbus Military has chosen a multi-mission path to providing for airlift and tanking capabilities for its customers. When the DOD chose the Boeing tanker built on a 40 year old airframe and an aircraft too small to do anything other than tanking, the DOD chose against the global trend. That trend is for multi-mission aircraft able to operate on more than a single specialty.
The difference in perspective was on display in the briefing by Antonio Rodríguez Barberán, Senior Vice President Commercial, at the Airbus Military Trade event in mid-May 2011.
At the heart of Barberán ‘s argument was that there was fundamental shift under way from the Cold War use of lift and tanking focused upon pure play military missions to a 21st century approach to global multi-mission taskings. Global security – air, ground and maritime – required the availability of lift and tanking assets to be deployable for global and regional operations. The presentation focused on increased demand due to the need to deal with natural disasters, oil spills and pollution control, controlling illegal immigration, global peacekeeping or stability operations, counter-piracy and maritime security missions. All of these missions together are broadening and changing the demand set facing the lift and tanking market.