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Aircraft Stats:

Powerplant: 4 x 10,000 shp TP400-D6 turboprops
Speed: 780 kph, 485mph mph
Range: 6 389km, 3970miles
Seats: 3+11
Length: 45.1m, 147ft 11in
Span: 42.4m, 1ft 1in
Empty Weight: 76 500kg, 168 653lb
Max T/O Weight: 136 500kg, 300,931lb
Period of Service: Contract cancelled

None specified

None specified

No incidents found


Status: Other
Manufacturer: Airbus Military
Country of Manufacture: International
Role: Medium transport

South African became a partner in the A400M airlifter programme in 2005 when it purchased eight (with an option for a further eight) of the transport aircraft.  

As a strategic/tactical airlifter, design considerations for the former includes long range, a high cruise speed and a large cargo hold with a high maximum payload. As a tactical transport, it has good short- and soft-field and low speed performance as well as autonomous ground operation.    

Airbus believes the aircraft is appropriate for South Africa as the "existing transport fleet of the SAAF does not respond to future airlift requirements". They add that the present fleet has an inadequate range and payload capability, that cargo hold cross sections are too small for modern loads and that the fleet is unable to perform tactical and strategic missions. They emphasise that the A400Ms large load and volume capability means fewer sorties, its long range fewer stops, its high cruise speed fewer hours, its short & austere airfield capability a greater choice of airheads, its low-level tactical flight enhanced survivability and its autonomous ground operations self reliance.      

The South African Government is keen on the deal as it sees the resultant industrial participation as key to its aviation industry expansion plans. It has been reported that if South Africa bought all 14, it will have the right to supply 7.2% of the value of the about-200 A400M aircraft scheduled to be produced so far. The numbers are difficult to reject considering Denel's continued precarious financial position and government's continued commitment to its survival - motivated as much by the political need to retain jobs as stimulating the hi-tech sector of industry, supporting the military and just plain, old-fashioned pride. "The A400M initiative is truly a lifeline for the SAAF and will, together with future decisions on the transport aircraft mix, rejuvenate the SAAF's transport capacity," the CAF, LTG Gagiano said in April 2005.

Although the first aircraft was due for delivery to the SAAF in 2010, delivery was delayed as a result of the delay in the test and certification program, with the aircraft scheduled to be delivered from 2013 or early 2014 onwards.

The contract was terminated on 5 November 2009 because of extensive cost escalation and delays in the contractual delivery time.