Airbus Defence and Space’s Military Aircraft division has been busy this year clearing the A400M to begin tactical airlift operations. That capability is scheduled for introduction in September, when the UK receives its first aircraft. France is also in discussions to upgrade its early aircraft to the same standard as soon as possible. Initial A400M deliveries have been made to France and Turkey, but those aircraft are currently cleared only for strategic airlift duties. However, France has already put those capabilities into operational use by supporting the Mali deployment last December.
To provide an initial tactical capability, the Airbus Defence and Space (Outside Stand D480) test team has been extremely busy in 2014 with paratroop and air-drop tests. By the end of August, the A400M will be fully cleared for paratroop drops from both side doors and rear ramp. Gravity drops of bundles from the side doors have also been cleared, as has the RAS/Wedge aerial delivery system.
More tactical functionality is being tested for introduction around the middle of next year. This includes parachute extraction of loads from the ramp, and refuelling operations as both tanker and receiver.
Following the UK receiving its first aircraft in September, Germany is scheduled to get its first in November. Malaysia should become the fifth A400M operator in early 2015.