French Air Force Celebrates 10,000 Flight Hours of its A400M Atlas Airlifter Fleet with Special Livery

The French Air Force has celebrated the 10,000 flight hour milestone of its Airbus A400M Atlas airlifter fleet with one of its aircraft painted in special livery.

The 10,000 flight hour mark was crossed on April 15 during the mission, COTAM 2054, conducted between Gao, Mali and Niamey, the capital of Niger, by a crew of the French Air Force l’Escadron de Transport 1/61 Touraine (Transport Squadron 1/61 Touraine). The special livery aircraft, with serial number MSN62, was painted with lettering, 10000H, on its vertical tail.

MSN62, based at Orléans-Bricy Air Base, is the 12th Atlas from France’s eventual 50-strong fleet of the type. It was also France’s first A400M equipped with under-wing hose-and-drogue refueling pods.

The French Air Force received its 14th A400M Atlas military airlifter on March 16 this year. The service is expected to take delivery of the 15th A400M next year, according to the French Defence Procurement Agency, DGA (Direction Générale de l’Armement).

Airbus A400M Atlas is a multi-national, four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and manufactured by Airbus Military (now Airbus Defence and Space). It was developed  as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the Transall C-160 and the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

The A400M is positioned, in terms of size, between the C-130 and the C-17; it can carry heavier loads than the C-130, while able to use rough landing strips. Along with the transport role, the A400M can perform aerial refuelling and medical evacuation when fitted with appropriate equipment.

The aircraft is powered by four Europrop TP400-D6 turboprop jet engines rated at 8,250 kW (11,000 hp) each.

The A400M operates in many configurations including cargo transport, troop transport, and medical evacuation. The aircraft is intended for use on short, soft landing strips and for long-range, cargo transport flights.

The A400M’s maiden flight took place on 11 December 2009 from Seville, Spain and the first aircraft was delivered to the French Air Force in August 2013.

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