RAF Atlas drops record-breaking 23 tonne cargo in parachute test.
Published 19th November 2018.
UK Atlas breaks parachute delivery record during Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) cargo drop trials
A Royal Air Force (RAF) Atlas delivered a cargo load weighing 23 tonnes by parachute over Salisbury Plain in a record-breaking test of the transport aircraft’s next-generation capabilities.
The drops, representing the heaviest overall load ever air-dropped by a UK aircraft, took place as part of trials overseen by Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) in partnership with the RAF, the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit and Air Warfare Centre, QinetiQ and Airbus.
The successful trial, captured in new video footage released today, confirms Atlas’ ability to deliver heavy loads, such as military equipment, supplies and humanitarian aid, without needing to land.
DE&S Atlas A400M Delivery Team Leader James Dowson said:
“These successful trials – involving the largest load ever air-dropped by a UK aircraft – are an impressive demonstration of A400M’s ability to deliver essential cargo to where it is needed.
“This has been a fantastic team effort bringing together staff from DE&S, the RAF A400M community at Brize Norton as well as our Industry partners to mature tactical capabilities for front line use in RAF operations.”
Watch the record-breaking Atlas drop
DE&S personnel set the engineering requirement and ensured the aircraft was airworthy for the trial.
Atlas allows the RAF to deliver heavier loads by parachute than ever before. By comparison, the maximum cargo weight deliverable via the Container Delivery System from a C-130J Hercules is approximately 15 tonnes.
The UK’s Atlas fleet is being developed to complement the Hercules fleet in support of transport operations all over the world. Atlas is currently in service with 24 and 70 Squadrons RAF, based at RAF Brize Norton.
Wg Cdr Ed Horne, Officer Commanding 70 Squadron RAF said:
“Atlas has already proven itself on active service especially in the humanitarian relief role in the Caribbean last year and Indonesia earlier this year.”
“These trials confirm the RAF as having one of the most capable transport fleets in the entire world and are a significant step forward in qualifying Atlas for even more operations.”
Results from the trial, which took place earlier this month, will now be fed back into the Atlas development programme which is qualifying the aircraft to perform such operations in active RAF service.
The international Atlas programme, being delivered by Airbus, is supporting around 8,000 jobs in the UK. In total the UK has ordered 22 Atlas aircraft which are all expected to be delivered to the RAF by the early 2020s.