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oh my

The French army's new warplane is monstrous

Is this the future of European military airspace?

TEN YEARS AGO, Airbus Military began working on a new transport aircraft that would take Europe into the next century of aerial warfare.

Backed by seven European members of NATO: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, the aircraft programme suffered years of delays and cost €20 billion ($26.1 billion).

Now, the A400M Atlas is almost here.

Scheduled for first delivery to the French army in time for July 14 Bastille Day celebrations, the turboprop plane is designed to be capable of everything its new owners need, from midair refuelling to paratrooper drop-offs to landings on short and unpaved runways.

It can even carry more than 80,000 pounds of cargo, while remaining remarkably agile in the air.

And according to Airbus parent company EADS, even the Americans are interested.

Images here from Airbus show the A400M Atlas:

The French army's new warplane is monstrous
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  • The A400M flies at 72% the speed of sound

  • It can fly at 40,000ft - altitude testing in La Paz, Bolivia

  • Shock-absorbing landing gear means it can land on unpaved strips

  • Turboprops instead of jet engines can handle debris better

  • Er, room for a pony...

  • ...or for a Chinook chopper, two armoured vehicles or a rescue boat

  • ...or for 116 fully equipped paratroopers

  • It can operate in severe weather conditions

  • Armoured cockpit, bullet-resistant windscreens, flares to make heat-seeking missiles less effective

  • It can refuel other planes midair

- Alex Davies

Why was a Boeing 727 deliberately crashed in the desert?>

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