These images of an Airbus Military A400M chewing grass would be our photos of the day, if we had such a feature.
The much delayed heavy military and logistics lifter has run a series of unpaved runway tests at the Cottbus-Drewitz field in Germany. Test A400M ‘Grizzly 2’ also made max-brake rejected takeoffs on the surfaces. Not entirely successfully according to Flightglobal, but then again, that’s what testing is for, and what getting to specifications is all about.
While the A400M isn’t on the radar when it comes to Australia at the moment, it is starting to display its potential. In the near future the A400M is going to be ‘scened’ in situations like the Kokoda or other PNG highlands strips, that is, doing tests like this surrounded by mountains and which require complex low speed approaches.
It is a class of turbo-prop lifter which appears to be a natural fit in the next decade for polar logistics missions as well, and perhaps especially so in Antarctica and in the domed ice areas that are at even higher and colder altitudes than the Amundsen-Scott base at the South Pole.