5 Facts About Airbus A400M Atlas: World’s Most Advanced Large Military Transport and Tactical Cargo Aircraft

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The Airbus A400M Atlas is a bigger and more capable option for Air Forces searching for a heavier military cargo aircraft than the Super Hercules, which has been a legendary transport for years in the Western Air Forces, and the oldest military aircraft in service. 

Although it’s staying strong in American service, it’s being replaced in Europe with the Airbus A400m. It’s been in service since 2013, serving a range of European Air Forces

1. It can carry cargo too large or heavy for the C-130

It can also land on rough landing strips. The plane’s cargo capacity is around double that of the older aircraft. It can carry equipment similar to a Patriot missile system, six land rovers, trailers, or a truck 25-ton trailer.

However, these planes have only seen very minimal combat experience to date.

2. Like many other projects, the development was difficult

The development fell behind schedule and ran over budget. The project was almost canceled by Airbus. Fortunately, member European states decided to go on with the project, giving Airbus more money for the project to be complete. 

3. It is powered by four Euro prop TP400-D6 turboprop 8200 kilowatts, 11,000 horsepower engines

It has also a maximum speed of Mach 7.2 and a cruise speed of 485 miles per hour. It has a service ceiling is 12,200 meters or 40,000 feet. Its range depends on its payload and speed, but with a 30-ton payload, its range could range approximately 4,500 kilometers, and at twenty tons that increases to 6,400 kilometers, or 4,000 miles. 

The Atlas also features a fly-by-wire system and approximately 30 percent of its structure is made out of composite materials. The plane’s propellers are also made of woven composite materials and have a swept wing design. 

The plane also has a capacity of 37 metric tons, or 81,600 pounds, and has a crew of three or four. It can also carry up to 116 fully equipped troops or paratroopers, as well as enough space for other supporting personnel and equipment. 

4. When it comes to the plane’s propellers, each pair turns in opposite directions

Its FH-385 propellers turn counterclockwise and the FH-386 propellers turn clockwise. This is quite a rarity since a vast majority of multi-prop planes have propellers that turn in the same direction. 

Counterrotating propellers are usually achieved by having a gearbox that reverses the propeller’s rotation. This eliminates the need to have engines that operate in reverse of each other. It enhances lift, and reduces the torque and prop wash on each wing. Moreover, it decreases yaw in case of an engine failure. 

5. It was a plane that managed to defy the odds 

The purpose of Airbus A400m Atlas was intended as an intermediate size and range option between the Lockheed C-130 and the Boeing C-17. 

Today, it provides a much bigger and more capable option for air forces that are searching for a heavier military cargo plane that the Super Hercules.