Grizzly 4 Test Flight

Airbus A400M Grizzly 4 in Subang back in 2012 with a RMAF roundel. Malaysian Defence picture

PETALING JAYA: As I had mentioned before, I was given the opportunity to fly on board Grizzly 4, the fourth A400M prototype during its recent visit to Malaysia.

I flew on April 16, 2012, the first day of test flights. Initially they told us we cannot take pictures in during the test flight but at the last moment, the green light was given although we were not allowed to take pictures of the cockpit.

A400M chief test pilot Ed Strongman gave a briefing to those onboard, four at a time, on the features of the cockpit, which was derived from the A380. It is a truly modern cockpit with HUD, flat screens and side stick controllers. Everything is controlled via a track ball on instrument panel. Strongman admitted that the Hercules was a more pilot’s plane compared to the A400M but he is sure proud of it since he had flown every (5) prototypes including the first one. The first production plane is expected to be ready soon and Strongman cant wait to fly it.

Anyhow, the cargo compartment is huge indeed. It can even fit a Hercules cargo cabin in it! And the A400M cargo is very squarish and flat to make it easy to load things inside. The rear wheels compartment cannot be seen from the cargo cabin as does the wing roots.

Jump seats are the individual types unlike the bench style on the Hercules. Ambient noise and vibration in the cabin even during take-offs and landings (with the rear hatch compartment opened) is negligible compared to the Hercules.

Airbus Military claimed that eight A400M operating costs (due to its lower fuel consumption and higher cargo carrying capacity) would be lower than 15 Hercules. Whether or not this is true will only be confirmed once the A400M starts operations – for the RMAF 2015.

As for me, only a flight to Pakistan on the A400M – which should be faster and more comfortable – could be a final review of the plane’s capability. Do I think its still wrong to purchase the A400M back in 2005?

I still think so,despite the apparent merit of the plane, especially if they do not take into account the extra planes (and its associated costs) in service with RMAF when they prepare the operational budget for 2015 and beyond.

— Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 2223 Articles
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  1. “eight A400M operating costs would be lower than 15 Hercules”. What sort of comparison is this? Your maintenance of 1 car should be lower than 3 cars it obvious. Unless stats the payload and fuel that would be fair.

    As I mentioned it was a claim by Airbus Military. I do not know how they can come up with the claim.

  2. I’m sure they are also assuming (based on their own data and conclusions) that 8 A400Ms can do the work of 15 Hercules. Now whether that is the case remains to be seen.

    Nowdays with sophisticated simulation model, one can make such claims. I am guessing thats how they made the claim. However we do not know which model of the Hercules they used as a benchmark. Was it a J or H model? But since the A400M is supposed to be able to carry a bigger load with a better fuel economy than the Hercules doesnt the claim make sense?

  3. Like my Dad always said, never trust a salesman. Until the day A400 serves RMAF, we’ll never know for sure. Btw, A400 is indeed a very sexy bird 😀

  4. As Mahalim pointed out, was the buy justified? Despite all the doomsday comments by various
    prophets of doom, the A400M, like numerous other programmes that were delayed and experienced cost overruns, will turn out eventually to be a sound buy. For me at least, the question is whether the money should have been spent on something more urgently needed, as unlike European C-130s and C-160’s which are overworked and are on average 35 years old, our C-130s sill have plenty of hours left and do not fly around the world regularly supporting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. One problem the USAF faced was that on occasions their C-130s were flying half empty, which was seen as a waste, hence the decision to go for a 2 engined, smaller aircraft. Does the RMAF have a paper requirement for additional CN-235s?

    I am not purview to any RMAF future transport plans but at least in Sabah and Sarawak there is an obvious a need to beef up the Nuri fleet for resupply missions to FOBs. The Cougars will be a welcome addition but a Chinook or Osprey would be more apt for these type of mission. Yes single engine transports like the Cessna Caravan or Pilatus Turbo Porter would also be welcomed but many of those border posts only have heli-pads

  5. If 4 Plane’s can replace a Job of 15 Herc’s , that would be a perfect and great choice , Since we only order 4 units of Grizzly , we could add it more after we received the first Plane and compare it will our Old C130’s

    Its eight A400m to 15 Hercules, I think they are actually talking about us!

  6. It is a mistake to spend so much money on the A400M which does not contribute to the combat power of the RMAF.The present fleet of C130’s is more than enough to meet the MAF’s lift requirement for operational purposes.Why it was purchased then?Apparently it was a ‘wahyu’ project, a gift from the ‘top’ when Abdullah Badawi was the Prime Minister.It is a political buy which does not do any good to the RMAF at all.The RMAF needs fighter aircrafts, AEW&C,MPA and GBADs more than transport aircrafts such as the A400M.This kind of politically motivated purchase derail the capability planning put in by the RMAF leadership and invariably put the defence of the nation at risk because the RMAF does not get what it wanted.The A400M purchase has deprived the RMAF of much needed funds for the more urgent and priority projects.

    It was during Tun Mahathir time as the deal was signed in Lima 2005. It would have taken at least three years prior to the signing to get the necessary approval. It was a wahyu project, mostly to secure CTRM future, which is another Tun Mahathir’s pet project. I was told the air force did not asked nor had any planning for a replacement for the Hercules during the 2010-2015 period, which was the original delivery schedule for the A400M. Thats why I am worried that they will not increase RMAF operational budget from 2014 onwards to accommodate the A400Ms.

  7. Imagine how much furniture you can load into an A400!!!!

    Or Pakistani basmathi!

  8. How many Pendekar can this bird carry in its belly? and can Charlie even carry one?

    I believe none, as the Pendekar is around 47 tonnes. It can carry two Adnans, or two AV8s I believe.
    The A400M can carry a Cougar or Sea King or Blackhawk with its rotors folded. Airbus is also saying that it can carry the Chinook although the domes that housed the rotors need to be taken off.
    The Hercules will be able to carry either one Adnan or AV8. And none of the helicopters I mentioned above due to its smaller cargo compartment.

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