Another premiere: A400M Atlas from an international squadron

18.05.2023, 12:10

The Belgian Air Force is already a traditional participant of the NATO Days & Czech Air Force Days. For this year, the BAF has prepared a premiere of the A400M Atlas transport aircraft from the unique Belgian-Luxembourg unit. It will be accompanied by a pair of F-16 multipurpose fighter jets at the static display.

The transport giant A400M Atlas has been presented at Leoš Janáček Ostrava Airport in the colours of Germany since 2016, either in dynamic displays, simulated in-flight refueling with Czech Gripens or on the ground. In contrast, the machine from the Belgian-Luxembourgish 15th Transport Wing was supposed to be presented already in 2021, but then its participation was cancelled two days before the event due to operational workload.

"The Belgian Atlas arrived at the NATO Days last year as well, when it only fulfilled the role of a support aircraft for the F-16 Demo Team and was thus not shown to the public. We therefore believe that this time its participation will not be jeopardized and that visitors of the event will be able to see it up close," said Zbyněk Pavlačík, chairman of Jagello 2000. "15th transport wing is also an excellent example of international cooperation, the importance of which we are trying to emphasize at our event."

Both Belgium and Luxembourg are founding members of the North Atlantic Alliance, but they also cooperate intensively in the defence field on a bilateral level, and the existence of the international 15th transport wing is a great proof of this. This is a European specialty, when the countries conduct, for example, joint training of pilots, and thus both Belgian and Luxembourg pilots can arrive at the NATO Days with an aircraft in the colours of one or the other country.

The four-engine turboprop A400M Atlas is the most modern European transport aircraft with strategic capabilities. It was developed by Airbus in cooperation with some allied nations. Its 17.71 metre cargo hold can hold up to 37 tonnes of material, 116 fully equipped soldiers or 66 military stretchers. Ten countries currently have the A400M in service, including Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, France, and Malaysia.

In addition to the A400M, two supersonic F-16 multipurpose aircraft will be presented, which are one of the most widespread machines in the armament of Western air forces and, thanks to their qualities and quantity, have become one of the symbols of the North Atlantic Alliance. "At last year's NATO Days, the Belgian F-16 in a breathtaking livery gave a great performance over the Mošnov airport. This year, after six years, it will return to a static display, where it will be alongside the Portuguese machines, whose premiere we announced recently," adds Pavlačík. 

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