The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed a £410m contract covering in-service support for the UK’s A400M Atlas airlifter fleet until 2026.
The in-service support contract will sustain around 200 UK jobs with Airbus Defence and Space, focused around RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. Elsewhere on the UK supply chain, the contract will support around 200 additional jobs at companies including Messier Dowty in Gloucester, Thales in Crawley and GKN and Rolls Royce in and around Bristol.
The RAF currently has 14 Atlas aircraft in service, with the planned fleet of 22 scheduled to enter service by 2019. The contract with Airbus will pay for maintenance, upgrade and repair of the UK’s entire fleet of Atlas transport planes into the next decade.
The new deal draws on a separate two-year Global Support Contract worth £63m that was recently agreed with France and Spain, which will provide common support and spares services, and is the first step towards a Six-Nation Global Support arrangement.
The Global Support Contract, effective 1st December, runs as a first step for two years and follows previously signed contracts which provided support for France and the UK in their early years of operation of the A400M. It additionally forms the basis of support for Spain which accepted its first aircraft on 1 December.
The new contracts follow the delivery of A400M training systems, including two cockpit simulators and a cargo hold trainer. The new training equipment at RAF Brize Norton has a combined value of £141m and is supported through a pre-existing service support contract worth £226m. The second of two flight simulators and a cargo hold trainer were delivered earlier in 2016. The facilities will provide training activities for up to 60 flight crews, and 60 maintenance personnel a year.
Elsewhere on site, a new, innovative hangar facility worth around £62m is on schedule to be fully fitted-out by early 2017. This building is capable of housing three Atlas aircraft during maintenance periods.