News BlogAviation

A400M. Paratroopers can sneak out through the side door. An asset in operation

(B2) The French Ministry of the Armed Forces is quite proud to announce it. The European A400M transport plane is now able to drop paratroopers from the three armies through a side door
(credit: DICOD / Air Force)

Dropping through the side door

In this type of action, a strap connected to the hold of the plane allows the parachute to be automatically deployed under the effect of gravity, once the skydiver has left the plane. All the tests and exercises made it possible to validate this new possibility of employment. The first operational parachute drop training took place last Tuesday (May 12) at the Airborne Troops School in Pau, with an Air Force A400M and Army paratroopers.

The operational range of the A400M completed

It is " an important step in the rise in power of the tactical capabilities of the aircraft called "Atlas" in French terminology. This completes the operational panoply of the A400M. The device could already drop paratroopers through the rear ramp, like equipment. A capacity validated in February. 25 tons, spread over 10 pallets, had then left the plane, to reach the ground. In a single pass and without landing!

An asset in operation

This type of personnel drop is “ a real asset in operation ", especially in " hostile area » or on complex terrain, we explain to the Air Force. It is also a guarantee of speed, a " essential component for power projection ". The airdrop indeed allows " to concentrate forces and equipment as close as possible to an objective ».

Next steps

This capacity is limited today to 30 paratroopers by a single door. Next steps: increase the drop altitude and the number of paratroopers. The objective is set: to authorize, from next year, the simultaneous release by the two side doors. That is a little later than expected by the manufacturer Airbus (see box).


Successful trials for 80 parachutists

The European manufacturer Airbus had announced last October having carried out several certification flight tests. One for the simultaneous deployment through the two side doors of 80 paratroopers (40+40) with their full equipment, in a single pass. The other for dropping 58 paratroopers through a single side door, which is the maximum capacity of the A400M. Tests carried out in close coordination with the (French) Directorate General for Armaments (DGA) and the French and Belgian armed forces, on the Ger drop zone (Bois d'Azet), in the Pyrenees. A camp run by the 1st Parachute Hussar Regiment (1st RHP). The end of the certification test phase paved the way for the simultaneous deployment of 116 paratroopers and the certification of mixed operations. The end of certification activities is scheduled for the first half of 2020, the manufacturer announced at the time. Everything got a little late today.

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).