An Update on the A400M: French-German Air Forces Shape a Common Training Effort


2017-05-08 The A400M as an operational baseline aircraft is being operated by several air forces.

According to Airbus Defence and Space there are now 42 A400Ms in service and the company currently has orders for 174 of the aircraft.

The two largest operators currently are the RAF, with 15 out of an ordered 22, and France, flying 11 out of 50 ordered.

The German Luftwaffe has eight A400Ms currently in service and has ordered 53 of the aircraft in total. Spain has taken delivery of one of an ordered 27, Turkey three of an ordered 10 and Malaysia has received the four it ordered. Belgium (seven) and Luxembourg (one) have yet to receive ordered A400Ms.

A key element of interoperability built into the aircraft is common parts and inherent potential for shaping common logistical approaches.

The British are working with Airbus and outsourcing their logistical support approach.

The A400M training centers. Credit: Airbus Defence and Space

According to an article by Andrew Chuter published earlier this year:

The British Royal Air Force’s A400M Atlas transport aircraft fleet is to be supported by Airbus Defence and Space in a £410 million ($504 million) deal announced Jan 5. 

The Defence Equipment and Support arm of Britain’s Ministry of Defence said in a statement that the contract will secure maintenance, upgrade and repair support of the planned 22-strong fleet of Airbus-built aircraft through 2026. 

The work will take place at the RAF’s air transport hub at Brize Norton where a £62 million hanger capable of housing three Atlas aircraft at one go is on schedule to be fully equipped in the next few months. 

The RAF fleet currently stands at 14 A400Ms following the delivery of two aircraft at the end of last year. 

The fleet is scheduled to reach 22 in 2019 and be the backbone of the RAF’s air-transport capability alongside smaller numbers of Boeing C-17 and Lockheed Martin C-130J aircraft.

In addition to the capability to shape common logistical approaches are common training approaches.

During a visit to Seville two years ago, there was a chance to talk with key Airbus personnel involved with the A400M who were shaping the standup and evolution of training for the aircraft.

At Seville, training is provided for the basics for operating the aircraft and to provide general training across various national air forces.

The French and the Germans are going to the next level and are focused on more advanced training.

At Bricy, the training is focused on operations, tactics and integration with the French Air Force.

A recent article published by the French Air Force highlights recent Franco-German common training at the Orleans base.

The article focuses on training at Orleans with the 61 Wing of the German Air Force. In March a delegation from the Wunstorf Air Base in Germany where the German A400Ms are based came to Orleans.

The visit provided an opportunity for a French instructor to provide final certification for a German pilot with regard to Type Rating certification.

“After a few sessions on the FFS, Simulator and on the aircraft, the commander of the CIET completed the flight test certification of the German pilot.”

The German Air Force is leveraging the technical expertise of the FAF with regard to A400M training.

The article also highlighted that German and French logisticians have started working together looking at comparing their ways of working in support of a mission.

“This is a first and fundamental setp toward interoperability between the two Air Forces with regard to mission support.”

This is an implementation of an agreement signed in the Fall of 2013 whereby the French and German air forces agreed to joint training for the A400M.

The challenge for the A400M as an operational force is to keep those aspects of commonality, which enhance interoperability across a multi-national fleet of A400Ms, and to integrate those aircraft within the national doctrines, tactics and approaches of the individual national forces.

The Franco-German training effort is a solid contribution to that outcome.

The photos in the slideshow are credited to the French Air Force.