WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- The German Air Force has received its first upgraded A400M Atlas military transport aircraft from Airbus Defense and Space.
The new plane is the sixth A400M to serve in the branch, and the first to feature new capabilities allowing it to fly into areas with known military threats. Germany intends to replace its legacy fleet of C-130 airlifters with the updated planes.
"The A400M program has made enormous progress this year in implementing these critical capabilities on the aircraft," Airbus A400M program manager Kurt Rossner said in a press release. "In addition to having twice the payload-range of the legacy transports like the C-160 and C-130 that it is replacing, it can now also operate from any runway that those older aircraft could use."
According to Airbus, the tactical upgrades include improvements in airdrops, paratrooping, and self-defense. The planes can also fly as low as 150 feet above the ground, and operate as a tanker for other aircraft.
"There is no other aircraft in the market with the A400M´s combination of tactical and strategic capabilities and it is going to transform Germany's air mobility force," Rossner added.
The company markets the A400M as the world's most versatile airlifter, capable of carrying payloads weighing up to 37 tons. Alternately, the plane can carry up to 116 troops.