Published 22 May 2023

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The 22nd Atlas A400M transport aircraft procured by DE&S on behalf of the Royal Air Force has touched down at RAF Brize Norton.

The arrival of the four-engine turboprop aircraft completes the UK order of Atlas under the development and production phase of this international programme.

Atlas, which has full glass cockpit, can deliver 37 tonnes of cargo over 2,000 nautical miles at an impressive speed exceptional short field performance enables it to operate from short un-prepared as well as semi-prepared strips, all achievable whilst utilising night vision goggles.

As well as deploying troops and equipment between theatres, the aircraft has been used to support many humanitarian missions including responses to major flooding and earthquakes. Most recently the aircraft was used to evacuate British nationals from war-torn Sudan.

DE&S is responsible for delivering the Atlas A400M fleet and continues to provide in-service support.

To mark the occasion, DE&S A400M team leader Nick Moore was in Seville where the aircraft have been assembled by Airbus. He took handover from industry before handing over to RAF.

Nick said:

“Being in a position to handover aircraft 22 to the RAF was a great honour, and I have done so on behalf of the entire A400M team at DE&S who have worked tirelessly alongside our colleagues at Airbus, OCCAR and the RAF to deliver this outstanding aircraft.

“All of us can be rightly proud of our role in ensuring the RAF can transport troops and equipment where needed, both in support of military operations and support critical humanitarian missions.”

Since entering RAF service in 2014, Atlas has repeatedly proven itself. It has excelled during relief operations in the Caribbean and contributed fully to the military response to COVID, transporting patients, equipment and vaccines.​It played a pivotal role in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Afghanistan and Sudan and has provided support to UK Defence operations around the globe, including the Middle East, Falkland Islands, and Mali.

Air Vice-Marshal Mark Flewin CBE, Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Group said:

“Recent events in Sudan have illustrated once again the importance of tactical air mobility. Operating from an austere airfield Atlas helped evacuate over 2200 entitled personnel and fly them to safety.

“The latest aircraft therefore joins a fleet which is already proven on operations and utilised globally in support of UK interests.”

Atlas also supports enduring operations in the Middle East and NATO Air Policing operations in the Baltic. In the UK Atlas has a 24/7 national standby commitment and supported the UK Border Force with maritime reconnaissance (MRR) in the English Channel, long range search and rescue (SAR) and overwatch. An Atlas is also based in the Falkland Islands, providing MRR, SAR and medical evacuation in the South Atlantic, and with the benefit of air-air refuelling airdropping supplies in Antarctica.