France’s Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA; Directorate General of Armaments) announced that it had accepted delivery of another Airbus A400M Atlas heavy-lift tactical transport on December 1, increasing the number of examples delivered to the French Air and Space Force (FASF) to 20 airframes.
The delivery of this latest aircraft (registration F-RBAT, c/n 075) took place on November 22 and comes less than six months after the FASF received its 19th aircraft on July 19, 2022. It will soon join the rest of the FASF A400M fleet at Orléans-Bricy Air Base (BA123), where it will join one of the two operational Atlas units that are home-based there: Escadron de Transport 1/61 (ET 1/61; Transport Squadron 1/61) ‘Touraine’ or ET 4/61 ‘Bearn’.
In a press release, the French DGA highlighted that the aircraft delivered to the FASF this year are all of the final development material standard – the latest version of the A400M that has been certified by the DGA – adding that “the programme team and industry are working to complete the certification of the latest tactical capabilities, including full airdrop automation; very high altitude airdrops and helicopter in-flight refuelling.”
In total, France has ordered 50 A400Ms from Airbus Defence and Space. With this latest delivery, 30 aircraft remain on order. France was the first nation to start operating the Atlas, with the first examples entering operational FASF service with ET 1/61 at Orléans-Bricy in August 2013. France intends to field 25 A400Ms by the end of 2025 under its Military Programming Law 2019-2015.