October 01, 2013
SEVILLE, Spain — The heads of the French and German air forces are signing up for a joint training program for the Airbus A400M airlifter.
Under the agreement signed on the same day as Airbus Military formally handed over the first A400M to the French air force (FAF) on Sept. 30, the two air forces announced a deal to train maintenance technicians from both countries for the aircraft at Wunstorf airbase in Germany starting in summer 2015, along with crew type training and logistical mission training. Crew training for tactical missions will take place at the A400M training center at Orleans airbase, France, with FAF crews beginning their training in 2014, while their German colleagues will start in 2018.
The move is part of a wider push for greater interoperability and standardization between the nations buying the new airlifter. According to DGA, the French defense procurement agency, several international working groups are meeting regularly under the European Air Transport Command (EATC) agency to “define operational procedures and develop a joint training curriculum.”
The U.K. has already established a partnership initiative with the FAF, with four Royal Air Force personnel — one engineer, one logistics specialist and two technicians — working on the A400M Multinational Entry into Service Team (MEST) at Orleans. A British pilot and a loadmaster will join MEST shortly, the DGA says. Senior FAF personnel from the MEST carried out an exchange in the U.K. flying the Lockheed C-130J to gain experience with the glass cockpit of a military airlifter.
The Franco-German A400M training partnership was signed at Orleans by Gen. Denis Mercier, FAF chief of staff, and Gen. Karl Müllner, his counterpart in the Luftwaffe.
The two countries are no strangers to joint training, having set up a school at Le Luc in southern France to train pilots and technicians on the Eurocopter EC665 Tiger attack helicopter, which is in service with both countries.