The Royal Air Force has taken delivery of its 22nd Atlas transport aircraft, completing the fleet that is set to replace the Hercules which will be retired in June.
The Atlas C1 (A400M) transport aircraft touched down at its new home of Oxfordshire's RAF Brize Norton from Seville, where it is assembled, including wings that have been made in the UK.
The four-engine turboprop aircraft will pick up all tactical airlift roles currently completed by both the Atlas and Hercules C-130 once the C-130 leaves service in June.
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"Recent events in Sudan have illustrated once again the importance of tactical air mobility. Operating from an austere airfield, Atlas helped evacuate over 2,200 entitled personnel and fly them to safety," said Air Vice-Marshal Mark Flewin CBE, Air Officer Commanding No. 1 Group.
"The latest aircraft, therefore, joins a fleet which is already proven on operations and utilised globally in support of UK interests," he added.
Apart from the recent Sudan evacuations, the Atlas played a pivotal role in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Afghanistan.
Since entering service in 2014, Atlas contributed to the military response to Covid, transporting patients, equipment and vaccines, as well as providing relief operations in the Caribbean.
The Atlas plays a crucial role in various operations across the globe. It is involved in both ongoing operations in the Middle East, as well as Nato Air Policing missions in the Baltic region.
Within the United Kingdom, the Atlas aircraft maintains a 24/7 national standby commitment.
It has been instrumental in supporting the UK Border Force with essential tasks such as maritime reconnaissance in the English Channel. Additionally, the aircraft contributes to long-range search and rescue missions and provides critical oversight.
The Atlas also operates from the Falkland Islands, offering essential support such as medical evacuation services in the South Atlantic.
The aircraft possesses the capability of air-to-air refuelling and airdropping supplies, enabling it to assist in remote locations like Antarctica.