As part of an operational trial, an A400M Atlas transport aircraft of the French Air and Space Force transported for the first time a Griffon armoured vehicle from the Djibouti to Orleans, France.
This was the first time that an A400M had loaded and transported a Griffon, the French Army’s flagship multi-role armoured vehicle. Weighing 24.5 tonnes, and with outsized dimensions (7.58m x 2.54m x 3.50m), its missions are to support and transport combatants as close as possible to combat areas. Carrying ten men, it has a strong ballistic protection capability and a remotely-operated turret with 12.7 mm machine gun and a GALIX grenade launcher system, the French Army said.
During a flight lasting approximately 7 hours, the crew, composed of three pilots and three flight engineers from the 61st Transport Wing (ET) and the Tactical Transport Aircraft (EM ATT) project team from Air Base 123 at Orleans, transported the vehicle.
The operation proved tricky, considering the sheer weight (20.8 tonnes for 37 tonnes of load capacity of the A400M Atlas) and the size of the Griffon. “When it came to loading the vehicle in terms of height, everything was a matter of a few centimetres,” explained the captain. After a number of measures taken, a real reorganization of the methods of loading and unloading of the hold of the aircraft was necessary: a feat for the exercise of the profession of flight engineer. Major Gilles, loadmaster, said: “The aim of the experiment was to officially approve the air transport conditions for the Griffon given in advance by the General Directorate of Armament. ”
Today, the A400M Atlas is the only air force aircraft capable of transporting the Griffon vehicle.
This successful joint experiment, which took place on 9 October, further increases the capabilities of the A400M Atlas. It is now capable of deploying and recovering Griffons on any airfield that it can access, the French Army said.
From 10 September, two Griffon wheeled armoured combat vehicles were embedded with the French Army’s 5th Overseas Interarms Regiment, based in Djibouti, for hot weather trials.
For its first trip to Africa, the Griffon spent ten days traversing Djibouti’s semi-desert terrain. The impact of hot weather and rough terrain was tested on components including chassis, weapon system, cupola and even GPS link.
The first deployment of the Griffon to Mali is scheduled for 2022.
Thirteen new Griffon vehicles were delivered in July to the 21st Marine Infantry Regiment (21st RIMa). The Army had already received 92 of these multi-role armoured vehicles in 2019.