Last year, the RMAF has decided to create a new unit – the 22nd Squadron – for the four Airbus A400M transport planes.
The Airbus A400M increases the airlift capacity and range compared with the aircraft it was originally set to replace, the older versions of the Hercules and Transall. Cargo capacity is expected to double over existing aircraft, both in payload and volume, and range is increased substantially as well. The A400M carries outsize loads such as helicopters, heavy engineering equipment and armoured vehicles that are too large or too heavy for current tactical airlifters.
The A400M is capable of carrying a load of 32 tonnes over a range of 2300nmls at speeds comparable with pure-jet military transports; furthermore, the range of the aircraft can be extended by the use of a removable, air refuelling probe mounted above the cockpit. The aircraft is capable of operating either at low-level (down to 150ft agl) or at high-level altitudes to 11,300m, and it is able to deploy troops and/or equipment between and within theatres of operation either by parachute (up to 108 paratroopers), or by landing on short, unprepared or semi-prepared strips.
Royal Malaysian Air Force's first Airbus A400M military airlifter during its maiden flight.