A-400M: not even a bargain at half the price

Angela Monaghan, the Telegraph's "industry correspondent" clearly knows what side her bread is buttered. She writes a slavishly lickspittle article welcoming the A-400M into service at the bargain price (for the RAF) of £3.2bn for 22 aircraft:

Philip Dunne, the minister for defence equipment, support and technology, says the A400M will become the "workhorse" of the RAF's lift capability, transforming how it does business. Speaking on one of the first flights of a sample A400M at Brize Norton, he said: "It has much greater lift capacity than the Hercules it will be replacing and much greater range, so that we will either be able to lift twice as much for the same distance, or travel twice as far with the same amount of kit."
Yes, the A-400M can carry 37 tonnes of kit 3300km, cruising around Mach 0.7. This is about twice the capacity of the C-130J Super Hercules which carries 19 tonnes of kit at about Mach 0.6. So this sounds like a no-brainer - except that a C-130J will set you back about $100m with all the options, or £60m, whereas the RAF is spending over £140m per aircraft for a basic A-400M.

Comparing it to the C-17 which cost the RAF about £70m each: the C-17 carries 77 tonnes of kit 4400km at Mach 0.74. Suddenly the A-400M doesn't look like so much of a bargain in either direction.

I refer you to the inimitable Lewis Page who nailed this project back in 2010:

The UK has been able to acquire much bigger, faster, longer-ranging C-17 Globemasters from the US in recent years for acquisition costs of £70m at most. A Globemaster carries more than twice what an A400M can and costs half what an A400M does: it is four times better value for money.
He quoted RAF Wing Commander Roger Green who was similarly forthright:
There is a problematic situation regarding the A400M should it go unserviceable whilst away from a main or RAF support staging base. Because the C–130 is in service with many air forces, and both the C–130 and the C–17 are operated by the USAF, the RAF has been able to take advantage of the mutual assistance that exists between national air forces on a global basis. That is not going to be the case with the A400M and it is likely that outside Europe, RAF A400M operations will have to be supported from its main base with the concomitant operational penalties.
Mr. Page was not impressed back in 2010, and his humour is unlikely to have improved over the past 3 years.

The A-400M is a staggeringly stupid and expensive project which was conducted solely to funnel money to the European aviation industry in order that they could continue to compete with Boeing, Lockheed Martin et al. It hasn't even achieved that aim - no-one sane would buy an A-400M when the C-130J or C-17 are available, established, operated world-wide and well-supported. I don't see any of these issues covered by Ms. Monaghan in her Telegraph article. Perhaps she should consider going out and doing some actual journalism.

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