Airbus Defence and Space has revealed further details regarding the A400M’s support of airborne and special operations, company officials described at the Special Operations Forces Innovation Network Seminar (SOFINS) on 28th March.
Addressing delegates at Camp Souge, Damien Allard, A400M Marketing Manager at Airbus Defence and Space admitted the aircraft could currently only deploy up to 30 parachutists from a single side door in static line configuration; and a total of 12 parachutists from the ramp to the rear of the aircraft in support of airborne operations.
The news follows revelations from defence sources during 2016 who explained to Monch how the aircraft has struggled to sponsor the deployment of static line and ‘simulation sticks’ from both sides of the aircraft- a concept of operation routinely used by airborne forces exiting C-130 Hercules aircraft.
However, Allard assured delegates how Airbus Defence and Space continued to work on developments in this particular specialism, with a hit-list of future capabilities designed to provide a more robust airborne and special operations capability in the short to medium term.
Allard explained how a Military Freefall (MFF) capability from the ramp had already been delivered to customers as well as capacity to drop 4-ton aerial delivery payloads from the ramp and loads up to 320kg from side doors.
Additionally, Allard described how the company was gearing up to provide a “high altitude drop” capability in the future, comprising both operators and cargo with aspirations to employ simulation sticks with up to 58 parachutists from each side door of the aircraft. The special operations community continues to witness uplifts in requirements for such capability with companies such as Complete Parachute Solutions engaging in an annual evaluation programme in the Himalayas to test equipment in high altitude/high angle environments.
With regards to cargo drops from the A400M, certification remains ongoing for the deployment of up to 25-tonnes of payload, including the tactical insertion of small special operations vehicles - another popular concept of operation prevalent throughout the special operations community.
Options include Airborne Systems’ RazorFly guided precision airdrop system which is capable of inserting SOVs such as the Polaris Government and Defense MRZR family of vehicles. Such a capability, Allard explained, would “change the whole combat situation” and again, echoes current popular thinking across the special operations community for enhanced range and mobility.
Meanwhile, the A400M continues to be prepared for Temporary Landing Zone (TLZ) operations with certification ongoing for unpaved and soft landings in the UK. “This should come in a few months times,” Allard claimed.
Finally, hard and unpaved airstrip landings have been completed and certified in Gao, Mali as well as Nadama, Niger, Allard confirmed.