The Airbus A400M long-range military transport aircraft is currently under development. To date only one prototype has been built. The A400M is an international project and was ordered by 10 countries. It's mayor operators will be Germany (60), France (50), Spain (27), United Kingdom (25) and Turkey (10). The A400M will replace a variety of aircraft, including C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall. The A400M made it's maiden flight in 2009. First deliveries were expected in 2009, however are postponed by delays.
Advanced design of the Airbus A400M incorporates extensive use of composite materials.
The Airbus A400M is powered by new generation high performance TP400-D6 turboprop engines. Each is rated at over 11 000 shp. These engines were developed by EuroProp International. Propeller blades are of composite construction. Turboprop engines were selected because of a number of advantages, such as cruise fuel efficiency and lower operating cost. Cruise speed of the A400M is almost as fast as turbofan powered transports.
This transport aircraft can carry up to 116 fully equipped troops or 66 stretchers and 25 attendants. The cargo hold can take nine standard military pallets. Two more can be loaded on the rear ramp. Simultaneously 54 troops can be seated in the side seats. This aircraft can drop simultaneously paratroops and cargo. The A400M can also carry tracked or wheeled vehicles, typically two 8x8 armored personnel carriers. Range at maximum payload is 3 300 km.
This military transport can take-off and land on soft semi-prepared airfields and requires relatively short runway length. It was also design to operate with limited or no ground facilities.
The Airbus A400M can be rapidly converted into tactical in-flight refueling tanker role. A refueling system can be installed within two hours.