Saturday, June 22, 2013
Like its civilian cousin the A380, the A400M military transport aircraft manoeuvres with surprising grace. The Royal Malaysian Air Force has ordered four such aircraft.
RMAF expecting delivery of its first A400M military transport in January next year
PARIS: THE air displays may not come with commentary, nor even a short announcement of what aircraft is taking to the skies.
But when the four turboprop-powered giant takes to the skies over Le Bourget, there is no mistaking it.
The Airbus Military A400M in flight is a sight to behold.
For its size, anyone watching it would be impressed by the grace it displays as its pilots takes it through almost aerobatic motions.
Behind that grace, though, lies a power that is incredible in its ability to take off on a short runway -- or any sort of runway, its manufacturers claim.
Any Malaysian watching the graceful giant would be impressed enough to agree that the Royal Malaysian Air Force's decision to procure four such aircraft was a good one.
The aircraft, the first of which will be delivered in January 2015, will allow the RMAF to transport more troops and material to areas further than its current fleet of C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.
The A400M was one of the highlights of the air display at the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget this past week.
The other big head-turner was also one which could possibly be of interest to the RMAF.
Russia, through its arms sales agency Rosoboronexport, has offered the RMAF an alternative to its multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) replacement programme.
It has offered an upgrade package for the air force's MiG-29N Fulcrum aircraft, instead of replacing them.
But should the Malaysian government turn down the offer and decide instead to go ahead with the MRCA programme, then Rosoboronexport would enter the race with offers of more Sukhoi Su-30MKM Flankers for the air force.
Rosoboronexport might even offer the Su-35, the most advanced version of the Flanker, known in some military circles as the Flanker Plus.
For the first time outside Russia, the Su-35 flew over Le Bourget this past week in a display of ability which left many in awe.
Russia also showed off its new Kamov Ka-52 Alligator attack helicopter, while Airbus displayed its A380, another graceful behemoth, though one flying a British Airways livery.
Not to be outdone, Boeing had its B787-8 Dreamliner and Apache attack helicopters, while smaller aircraft also took the chance to show off.
But if there were any RMAF visitors to the show, all of these would have paled in comparison to the A400M and the Flanker Plus.