06 October 2015

No. 70 Squadron, the first Royal Air Force A400M Atlas Squadron, based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire, deployed one of its aircraft to Fort Bliss, Texas, in the USA to participate in the Network Integration Evaluation training exercise, on Sunday 27th September 2015.

Led by the Officer Commanding 70 Squadron, Wing Commander Simon Boyle and accompanied by Squadron Leader Kate Houghton of the Air Warfare Centre’s Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit, the UK team worked in concert with US forces to complete load and tie-down trials with a US Army Stryker Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV).

Royal Air Force A400M Atlas This event has significant implications for future NATO and UK / US interoperability as the loading exercise links directly to the vehicle’s certification for carriage in the A400M; an outcome which will help to meet one of the objectives of the NATO 2014 Wales summit, where leaders agreed to establish a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force as a "Spearhead Force" able to deploy at short notice to threats against NATO sovereignty. The Stryker family of vehicles figure prominently as part of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Vilseck, Germany.

Wing Commander Simon Boyle said: “The A400M Atlas continues to demonstrate that it offers a global Air Transport capability for the RAF. Flying an aircraft into Fort Bliss for the trial load of Stryker has been an extremely valuable exercise. With interoperability at the heart of the A400M programme the opportunity to load a core fighting vehicle of the US Army into a RAF A400M has provided a clear demonstration of the aircraft’s utility in the coalition operating environment.”

Squadron Leader Kate Houghton continued: “My team successfully loaded, tied down and unloaded the Stryker ICV variant with ease. Once further data is obtained and based on the favourable outcome of the trial, we are all optimistic that an air transportation certification for Stryker in the A400M will be produced in the near future.”

The RAF recently accepted the eighth of the 22 aircraft that it has ordered. The A400M’s 37 tonne payload, strategic range, and jet-like speed provide the ability to deliver medium-weight armoured vehicles and troops rapidly to austere airfields. All 22 aircraft will eventually be based at RAF Brize Norton.

RAF A400M Atlas plans for ‘Stryking’ heavy lift capability
Royal Air Force A400M Atlas