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Arrival of first A400M of binational Luxembourg-Belgium unit at 15 Wing


On Friday, October 9, 2020, the first of 8 Airbus A400M Atlas that will be operated by a joint unit formed by the Luxembourg Armed Forces and the Belgian Air Component landed for the first time at Melsbroek Air Base (military side of Brussels Airport), home of the Belgian 15th Wing.

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Arrivée A400M CT 01 Melsbroek 9 10 2020 24 Arrival of Airbus A400M Atlas of the Luxembourg Armed Forces in Melsbroek, home base of the Belgian 15th Wing, where the aircraft will be operated in the framework of a binational unit, hence the Luxembourg roundel on the airframe and the Belgian 20th Squadron's Indian Head above the lateral access door (Picture source: Air Recognition)


Flown by a joint Belgian and Luxembourg crew, this A400M(registered CT-01, s/n MSN 104, being the 104th A400M built among the 174 ordered by seven European countries and Malaysia) had taken off from Seville (Spain) where it had been manufactured and landed at Findel-Luxembourg airport on Wednesday, Oct. 7, where i twas greeted by Luxembourg Vice-Prime Minister and Defense minister François Bausch accompanied by Gen. Steve Thull, Chief of Staff of the Luxembourg Armed Forces. The Atlas took off this Friday 9 Oct. morning and landed at Melsboek/Brussels after a very appreciated fly-by. The official reception committee was formed namely by very recently appointed Belgian Minister of Defense, Mrs Ludivine Dedonder, Air Force Maj.Gen. Thierry Dupont (Cmdr Belgian Air Component), Air Force Lt.Col. Dominique Van Den Heuvel (C.O. 15 Wing) and Luxembourg Defense Minister François Bausch.

In Luxembourg, Mr. Bausch greeted the excellent cooperation between his ministry and its Belgian counterpart on the acquisition of8 A400M Atlas initiated in 2003 (one for Luxembourg and seven for Belgium). « It is a good example of a joint investment on « pooling and sharing » projects. Since 1968 when it withdrew from service its three Piper PA-18 light observation aircraft, Luxembourg had no air force anymore. A400M CT-01 brings the country back in business.

In Belgium, the A400M will progressively replace the aging fleet of Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules still operated by the 20th Squadron, 15th Wing, of the Belgian Air Component.


Arrivée A400M CT 01 Melsbroek 9 10 2020 31 The official reception committee was formed namely by very recently appointed Belgian Minister of Defense, Mrs Ludivine Dedonder and her counterpart Luxembourg Defense Minister François Bausch (left), Air Force Maj.Gen. Thierry Dupont (Cmdr Belgian Air Component), and Air Force Lt.Col. Dominique Van Den Heuvel (C.O. 15 Wing) (Picture source: Air Recognition)


On Dec. 18, 2001, a contract was signed by eight European countries with Airbus for the manufacture of 196 A400M Atlas for a total amount of 18 billion euro : 50 for France, 73 for Germany, 25 for UK, 27 for Spain, 7 for Belgium, 3 for Portugal, 1 for Luxembourg and 10 for Turkey. The Defense ministers of these countries signed an MoU to create the complex legal structure required by the acquisition program. The National Directors for Armament of each of these countries also signed another document in the same framework and Klaus von Spreber, director of the OCCAR (Organisme Conjoint de Coopération en matière d’Armement, a common European organization aiming at harmonizing armament acquisitions) formally signed the purchase contract with Alberto Fernandez, the CEO of Airbus Military, a subsidiary of Airbus. Since then, Portugal pulled out of the program and Germany reduced its order from 73 to 53 aircraft.

The first A400M for the Belgian Air Component was expected from 2018 to replace the – then in service – 11 C-130H Hercules (7 ones remain in service to date). Delay after delay in the program led to the now scheduled delivery in mid-November 2020.