The French Air Force has for the first time flown one of its new Airbus Defence and Space A400M Atlas transport aircraft to the Central African Republic as it expands flights to its foreign bases.
According to the French Air Force, the A400M landed at Bangui airport on November 7. It unloaded 7.4 tons of supplies intended for France’s Sangaris force, comprising 2 000 French troops tasked with re-establishing security and assisting in the UN-led MINUSCA mission.
The A400M flew from its home base at Orleans to N’Djamena, Chad, and then on to Bangui. In addition to the cargo, it carried 14 crew members, including pilots, flight engineers and loadmasters.
The French Air Force said the aircraft is perfectly suited to the current requirements of French forces deployed in central Africa. “Its payload of 20 to 30 tonnes and its strategic range allow substantial savings in terms of asset efficiency and substantial savings in flight times compared to the previous-generation aircraft it replaces.”
The A400M’s maximum usable payload capacity of 32 tons is double that of the C160 Transalls which France’s A400M fleet will replace.
At the beginning of this year France flew the first operational A400M mission into Africa when the second Atlas to be delivered to the French Air Force delivered 22 tons of supplies to French forces in Mali.