04/12/2015: By Robbin Laird
I visited the Final Assembly Line of the A400M in Seville on April 8, 2015 and at the Bricy Air Base at Orléans on April 10, 2015.
While at the FAL, I saw 4 A400Ms on the tarmac, one of them a developmental plane and three for customers, including a Turkish A400M undergoing engine tests.
And at Bricy, I had a chance to interview the squadron commander and the head of the training center, and was able to visit some of the A400Ms at the base.
There are six planes already at the base with a seventh coming this fall.
They are flying on average two flights to Africa and two to Djibouti and the UAE per month, bringing support directly from France to deployed French forces.
As a software upgradeable aircraft, the planes are in the process of further development while engaged in operations.
And upgrades will occur in due process.
Next up on the agenda is training for night operations and then adding defensive aids to the aircraft.
The A400M is clearly a work in progress at Bricy but the leadership at Bricy has a clear idea of how to use the aircraft, and the plane is already delivering significant capabilities to the deployed French forces.
The first four photos were shot in Seville on the tarmac and show the four planes found there that day.
The factory has a number of planes under production as well and there is a ramp up of production underway at the FAL.
The fifth photo is of my host at Bricy, Lt. Col. Benoit Paillard the Commander of Transport Squadron 1/61 “Touraine.”
The remaining photos are shots of the A400Ms visited at Bricy.
Credit Photos:Second Line of Defense
For some earlier pieces on the A400M roll out see the following: