Airbus Military’s A400M airlifter recently visited South America for the first time, conducting high-altitude performance trials from La Paz, Bolivia, announced the company. “I am pleased to say that the early results from these trials have been very positive,” said Airbus flight test chief Fernado Alonso. Completing several flights from El Alto International Airport roughly 13,000 feet above sea level, testers say they validated the aircraft’s takeoff and flight performance in challenging low air-density environments. “High-altitude testing is a critical part of the overall flight-test program which will ensure that we deliver on our performance guarantees to customers,” noted Alonso. The test airframe made air show appearances in Chile and Peru during the tour, logging the A400M’s 1,000th sortie, according to a company release. Airbus is currently building the second production A400M for delivery to the French air force next year.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.