Airbus Military A400M Atlas (photo : AirTeamImages)
KUALA LUMPUR: DEPUTY Royal Malaysian Air Force chief Lt-Gen Datuk Roslan Saad recently tested the nation's next-generation transport aircraft in France.
Following the test flight, which took place in
, the country's
second highest ranking military pilot gave the thumbs up to the Airbus Military
A400M airlifter, which was recently given the codename Atlas. Toulouse
"It is an enormous pleasure to fly the aircraft that is going to be at the heart of the RMAF's transport capabilities in the future.
"It is a real 'pilot's aircraft' and I look forward to seeing it enter service so that we can apply its capabilities on a wide variety of missions," said Roslan.
The government is expected to take delivery of the first aircraft in January 2015.
The agreement to buy the A400Ms was first highlighted by the New Straits Times in December 2005. A few days later, a memorandum of understanding for the procurement of four aircraft for the RMAF was signed between the government and Airbus Military.
The negotiations also centred on making the Malaysian aerospace industry a partner in the A400M programme.
Along with the deal for the aircraft, Airbus Military also signed a RM907 million agreement in designing and manufacturing composite A400M airframe parts with Composites Technologies Research Sdn Bhd.
Larger than the C-130 Hercules transport plane, which is currently used by the RMAF, the A400M was purchased to boost the RMAF's capabilities to transport cargo and troops. It has a length of 43.8m with a wingspan of 42.4m and a height of 14.6m.
It is a multi-role military tactical airlifter built to compete with other aircraft companies in replacing the ageing fleets of Hercules and C-160 Transall planes in air forces around the world.
With a payload of 37 tonnes, the A400M can carry twice the load of the Hercules. It is capable of conducting strategic operations, tactical missions and delivering fuel.
The aircraft has a high-flotation landing gear which allows take-offs and landings on short, unpaved airfields. This is crucial in battlefield conditions where the aircraft can land on semi-prepared airstrips with less than 1km of runway.
A total of 174 aircraft had been ordered by
Germany, Luxembourg, Malaysia,
Spain, Turkey and the . United Kingdom
The aircraft programme, however, had been plagued by problems that caused customers to receive their planes late. The RMAF was supposed to take delivery of its first plane next year.