The A400M Atlas is the first military aircraft designed as such from scratch by the military division of Airbus. It was developed from the Future International Military Airliner (FIMA) project to design a successor to the C-130 and C.160 aircraft that were the main tactical transports used by most NATO countries. The A400M is a large tactical transport, filling a niche for an aircraft in the intermediate size range between the C-160 and C-17, and as a result can carry around twice the payload of the aircraft it is intended to replace (it can carry a Boxer IFV or 116 fully armed troops), and land in unprepared airstrips that would be inaccessible to most strategic transports. Its most recognizable feature is the eight-blade propellers; each wing pair counter-rotate. It also has a full glass cockpit and digital fly-by-wire, and can deploy baffles to assist parachute drops. Aerial refueling is provided via a removable probe, and it can also be adapted as a tanker. Thus far, a total of eight countries have ordered the A400M including Germany, France, Spain and the UK (its main users), but it is likely to be aggressively marketed to non-NATO countries. Despite its capabilities, the A400M program (Europe's largest defense project) has been dogged with significant delays and cost overruns, and fiscal issues in Europe have also led to partner countries reducing their orders.
First flight of the A400M Grizzly (as the prototype was named) took place on 11 December 2009, over a quarter century after the idea was first conceived. First deliveries of the renamed Atlas to the French Armée de l'Air took place in 2013 and it is currently under production.
Preceded by:C.160 (1967)