The A400M Tests in Madama: Sustainable Support from France to the Battlespace


2016-09-17   Madama is a border settlement on the northeast frontier of Niger. Little more than an army post, the settlement serves as a frontier station controlling travel between Niger and Libya.

It is also the site of a former French colonial fort, built in 1931. The army of Niger maintains a garrison of a hundred soldiers, depending on the 24th Interarmes Battalion from Dirkou.

On Oct 23, 2014, the French government announced plans to base helicopters and 50 French troops here, under the Operation Barkhane.

The French Army has built a forward operating base for operation sin the area, The French military is about 200 to 250 soldiers in January 1, 2015. The operational base of Madama served as a command post for a military operation zone control for the French, Niger and Chad armies from 20 to 27 December 2014.

And another article added these details:

France is setting up a base in northern Niger as part of an operation aimed at stopping al-Qaida-linked militants from crisscrossing the Sahel-Sahara region between southern Libya and Mauritania, officials said.

Paris, which has led efforts to push back Islamists in the region since intervening in its former colony Mali last year, redeployed troops across West Africa earlier this year to form a counter-terrorism force.

Under the new plan, about 3,000 French troops are now operating out of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad – countries straddling the vast arid Sahel band – with the aim of stamping out Islamist fighters across the region. Another 1,000 soldiers are providing logistical support in Gabon and Senegal.

“A base is being set up in northern Niger with the throbbing headache of Libya in mind,” a French diplomat said.

Neither France nor Niger has said where the base will be but military sources in Niger said it was likely to be around Madama, a remote desert outpost in the northeast, where Niger already has some troops based.

The base is part of the effort to battle the various terrorists who are operating in the porous border regions in the area.

The A400M offers the capability to fly directly from its operating base in France to an African base such as Madama.

As Lt. Col. Benoît Paillard, the Commander of the Transport Squadron, 1/61, Touraine put it during an interview last year:

One of the key advantages of the A400M will be that we can fly helicopters directly from France to the troops which we can not do right now.

We cannot ship the helos directly back to France, currently with our own assets.

With the A400M we will be able to do so.

 A test and evaluation team is working the processes of how best to put helos into the plane and how to take them out.

 We will save significant amounts of time, and time is a key element of combat success.

According to a recent French Air Force article published on September 13, 2016, the A400M flew from August 24-31 to Madama in a series of tests to prepare the way forward.

The tests were conducted under the EMATT and the CEAM which are key French Air Force centers of excellence with regard to aviation.

“The tests are part of the step towards further certification of the aircraft.”

The difficult terrain in the area provides a good test of the capabilities to operate in a challenging operational environment as well.

Currently, the French Air Force has 10 A400Ms based at Orleans.

First Flight of Spanish A400M from on Vimeo.

Recently, the Spanish Air Force’s first A400M made its initial flight.

According to Airbus Defence and Space press release on September 6, 2016:

The first Airbus A400M new generation airlifter ordered by the Spanish Air Force has made its maiden flight, marking a key milestone towards its delivery.

The aircraft, known as MSN44, took off from Seville, Spain where the A400M Final Assembly Line is located at 15:25 local time (GMT+1) on 5 September and landed back on site 3 hours and 45 minutes later.

 Test-Pilot Nacho Lombo, who captained the flight, said after landing: “

As always, the aircraft was a pleasure to fly.

I am confident that its unique combination of strategic and tactical capabilities will have a transformational effect on the Spanish Air Force’s air mobility operations as it has done in other countries already.”

The aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in the coming weeks.

For treatment of the subject on the Spanish Air Force website see the following as well:

For some of our earlier pieces on A400M, see the following:

The slideshow above highlights the A400M testing at the Niger base and the photos are credited to the French Air Force.