Feeds

RAF's new military airlifter finally lumbers into the air

Crap, many years late - but at least it's expensive

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Comment Another doleful milestone for British taxpayers and servicemen today, as the A400M military transport plane takes to the air for its first test flight. The A400M - a decade late and massively overbudget - continues to drain the UK's defence coffers though better alternatives are readily available: meanwhile our fighting troops overseas desperately need more airlift.

The saga of the A400M is a long and sorry one. For Britain, the story begins in the late cold war, when planners began to consider a "Future Large Aircraft" to replace the Hercules C-130 lifters which Britain has operated since the 1960s. By 1993 the scenario had changed (the '91 Gulf War having "revealed" that wars would probably not be fought in Europe any more) and the Air Staff Requirement which led to the UK order for A400Ms appeared. Back then it was expected that the promised new plane would arrive "in the new decade".

Unfortunately the FLA was to be a pan-European collaboration, and political horse-trading and negotiations over work share, numbers etc wiped out the rest of the 1990s. By the time any firm plans could be assembled, the earliest date at which the UK could expect any aircraft had slipped right out of the original target decade to 2011.

Meanwhile, as British troops and their supplies continued to fly in and out of wars and troublespots all over the world - Bosnia, Kosovo, East Timor, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan, Iraq, Afghanistan again - the ageing Hercules fleet had to be partly replaced and supplemented by a small number of proper C-17 heavy lifters from America, not to mention extensive use of chartered Russian Antonovs.

The C-17s in particular exposed the A400M as bad value for money: they have cost the UK around £200m each inclusive of support and can carry 80 tons over 2,500 miles. On the original projections an A400M was expected to cost £100m to acquire (eg at least as much as a C-17 once support costs are included) - but it can haul only 30 tons to 2,500 miles. Even had the A400M programme gone to plan, it would have represented roughly triple price for a given amount of lift.

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Yes, yes, Steve Jobs. Look what I'VE done for you lately – Tim Cook
New iPhone biz baron points to Apple's (his) greatest successes
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.