Belgian Air Force takes delivery of its first new A400M MSN106 military transport aircraft

According to information published on December 22, 2020, the Belgian Air Force has taken delivery of its first of seven Airbus A400M military transport aircraft. The aircraft was handed over to the customer at the A400M Final Assembly Line in Seville (Spain) and subsequently performed its ferry flight to the 15th Air Transport Wing in Melsbroek (Belgium), where the aircraft will be based.

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Belgian Air Forces takes delivery of its first new A400M MSN106 military transport aircraft 925 001 The first A-400M for the Belgian Air Force (registered CT 02) on the way for its home base, the 15th Air Transport Wing based in Melsbroek, Belgium (Picture source: Airbus)

In mid-June 2001, Belgium and Luxembourg signed a bilateral agreement to jointly acquire seven Airbus A400M military transport aircraft for Belgium and one for Luxembourg. In the Belgian Air Force, the new A-400M will replace the old C-130H in service with the Belgian Air Force since 1972. The aircraft has been modernized several times since commissioning, including new wings and cockpit instruments.

This A400M, known as MSN106 (registered CT 02), will be operated within a binational unit composed of a total of eight aircraft, seven from the Belgian Air Force and one from the Luxembourg Armed Forces. The second A400M for Belgium will be delivered in early 2021.

The A400M Atlas is a European four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft that was designed by Airbus Military (now Airbus Defence and Space) as a tactical airlifter with strategic capabilities to replace older transport aircraft, such as the French Transall C-160 and the American Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules. Cargo capacity is expected to double over existing aircraft, both in payload and volume, and range is increased substantially as well. The cargo box is 17.71 m (58.1 ft) long excluding ramp, 4.00 m (13.12 ft) wide, and 3.85 m (12.6 ft) high (or 4.00 m (13.12 ft) aft of the wing).[87] The maximum payload of 37 metric tons (41 short tons) can be carried over 2,000 nmi (3,700 km; 2,300 mi). 

The A400M can be operated in many configurations including cargo transport, troop transport, and medical evacuation. It is intended for use on short, soft landing strips and for long-range, cargo transport flights. The A400M is large enough to carry six land rovers and trailers, or two light armored vehicles, or a dump truck and excavator, or a Patriot missile system, or a Puma or Cougar helicopter, or a truck and 25-ton trailer.