10 Oktober 2013 Defense Studies
FLEXIBILITY: Airbus A400M can do the jobs of 3 aircraft
SEVILLA (SPAIN): A RADICAL shift is expected in the way the Royal Malaysian Airforce (RMAF) approaches military and humanitarian missions, once it takes delivery of the new Airbus A400M Atlas aircraft.
The aircraft, dubbed the "next generation airlifter", is to play a pivotal role in the airforce's operations once it comes into service in two years.
Airbus Military head of media relations Maggie Bergsma said first of four aircraft ordered by RMAF was expected to be delivered by the 2015 deadline.
"We are on track and the first delivery for Malaysia is scheduled for 2015. We have launched long-lead items up to MSN33, which includes two A400Ms for Malaysia. The fourth delivery for the RMAF is scheduled for 2016," she said.
RMAF had placed an order for the aircraft on Dec 8, 2005.
She said the A400M was expected to change the way military and humanitarian operations were carried out by RMAF.
Bergsma said this was due to the A400M's ability to perform tasks that were previously executed by three aircraft.
"The A400M will mark a difference in the way military and humanitarian missions are approached.
"The versatility of the A400M allows one aircraft to do the job of three aircraft.
"The A400M can deliver the contents of its bigger payload faster, further and nearer to where it is needed.
"The RMAF will not only have three aircraft in one with each A400M, it will also have an aircraft that can do better than these three together. This is certainly a change. And it is a change for good."
On the question of the difficulty in transition between the RMAF's fleet of C-130 fleet and the A400M, Bergsma said this would not be a problem.
"The RMAF was involved in the programme from the start and is fully participating with the Airbus Military teams to prepare for the delivery and entry into service."
She said discussions were in place with Malaysia to ensure that all services needed for the operation of the aircraft were ready in time for the delivery.
Malaysia joins seven airforces -- Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom -- to have the A400M in their fleets.
Bergsma said Malaysia, like all of the A400M launch customers, had been participating in the design and manufacturing of several A400M secondary composite structural components.
She said Composite Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM) was the sole source of such components, notably the complete vertical tail plane leading edge, the main landing gear doors, and access panels on the wings and horizontal tail plane, plus nacelle fairings.
She said this following the delivery ceremony of the A400M in Airbus Military's production facility in Sevilla, Spain, on Sunday.
The ceremony was graced by Felipe, Prince of Asturias. Also present was French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.
(New Straits Times)