2013-05-26 French officers interviewed recently in Mali suggested they eagerness to have A400Ms in the lift fleet.
According to SLD’s Murielle Delaporte, based on her interviews in country, during her time in Mali with the French forces:
Air support has been crucial in the areas of more intense engagement. Forward air controllers or FACs were important members of the ground forces. And air assets –Air Force (fighters), Army (helos) and Navy (Atlantique 2) – have been drawn upon in the operation.
More generally, and as far as the air component goes, one should also stress that the demands on the old tactical transport aircraft Transalls or the C-160s are very high.
This would be a good time to have the new A400Ms in play.
French Air Force officers all agree that it will be beneficial in the near future to have a plane which could fly straight from France and have the capability to land on the short, tough airfields characteristic of the Mali operation.
And it appears that this day is getting closer.
The second production A400M is undergoing tests for the French forces.
According to a press release from Airbus Military dated May 24, 2013:
The second production Airbus Military A400M has successfully completed its first engine runs as it begins final preparation for its maiden flight later this month.
The aircraft, known as MSN8, is now undergoing taxying trials outside the A400M Final Assembly Line in Seville, Spain.
Airbus Military expects to complete four A400M aircraft in 2013 and will deliver MSN8 to the French Air Force in the third quarter of the year.
For a look at the potential roles of the A400M in a Mali-like operation see the following: