2013-02-20 The kind of capability which the A400M delivers will be highly valued by the French forces when deliveries start later this year.
The evolving concepts of operations by the French forces are built on rapid insertion of force and keeping up a tempo of attack. Airlifters are a central engagement assets in this concept of operations. They are not simply flying buses.
http://defense.aol.com/2013/02/19/mali-frances-version-of-shock-and-awe-add-allies-crush-aqim/According to a release from Airbus Military:
As the countdown to first customer delivery progresses, the Airbus Military A400M new generation airlifter has successfully passed a renewed series of cold weather tests in a production-representative configuration.
During a weeklong deployment to Iqaluit, Canada, the flight test-team demonstrated the capability of equipment such as the cargo system and production-standard engines, which were not available during earlier tests in Sweden.
Tests conducted over 5 days on Grizzly 5 / msn6 included engine runs after a 24-hour cold-soak to -32°C, use of all the cargo bay equipment, taxying, and a development flight.