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Update: UK confirms intent to acquire additional A400M airlifters

With 22 A400Ms currently on order, deliveries of which are almost complete, the UK intends to buy additional airframes in future years to add mass to its fixed-wing air mobility force. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

The United Kingdom has firmed up its intent to acquire additional Airbus A400M Atlas airlifters, with the procurement featuring in the latest Defence Equipment Plan 2021–2031.

In the plan published on 21 February, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) made several references to its decision to acquire further A400M aircraft to add to the 22 currently on order. Although the proposed additional aircraft numbers, budgets, and timelines were not disclosed in the report itself, the National Audit Office (NAO) revision to the report released on the same day noted that the additional purchase will be valued at GBP750 million (USD1.02 billion). This would likely equate to eight aircraft to bring the fleet up to 30 A400Ms.

“In later years of the plan, [there will be] planned equipment investments worth GBP2.3 billion [USD3.13 billion], including […] further A400M aircraft,” the plan noted. It added that the top-level budget for this and other longer-term items has not yet been delegated, “and doing so will be dependent on the affordability of the programme as a whole”.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) has to date received 20 of its 22 A400Ms, with the last two scheduled to be handed over shortly. The medium-lift aircraft provides the service's mid-tier airlift capability, with its 37 tonnes payload capacity sitting in-between the 22 tonnes of the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules and the 72 tonnes of the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III.

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