This spectacular photo comes courtesy of the UK’s Royal Air Force. It shows an Airbus A400M Atlas coming in for a beach landing at Pembrey Sands beach in South Wales, UK. This marked the first time the RAF had carried out beach landing training with the 76,500kg or 168,653 lbs aircraft.
The RAF routinely carried out beach landings with its other tactical airlifters during training exercises. The aircraft’s pilot, Flight Lieutenant Cheng, of 206 Squadron Pilot said:
“The advanced flight deck of the A400M and cutting-edge fly by wire controls made this task easier to fly than other platforms. We are now looking forward to the challenge of conducting this operation using night vision goggles later in the trial.”
206 Squadron’s commanding officer, Wing Commander Neil Philip, said:
“My specialist team has worked hard to deliver this trial and it has showcased the tremendous tactical potential of the A400M. Once this capability is handed over to the front line it has the potential to have a great impact on operations.”
The A400M, powered by four 11,000 horse power turboprops, entered service with the RAF in 2014, it supplements the RAF’s existing transport aircraft the Hercules and C-17. With a wingspan of 140 feet and a maximum speed of 400 knots and altitude of 40,000 feet the aircraft is capable of lifting 81,600 lbs of payload and able to carry a company of full equipped troops or vehicles and even Chinook helicopters. The A400M is more fuel efficient, faster, and has a better left capacity than the older C17. To date the RAF have ordered 22 A400M Atlas airlifters, reduced from an original order of 25, with 20 aircraft delivered as of November 2018. Delivery of the last of the order is expected in 2021. The majority of the Royal Air Force’s A400M’s are based at RAF Brize Norton.