Today at the ILA in Berlin, Lufthansa Technik solemnly handed over the first of two Airbus A321LRs to the Air Force. The new aircraft will soon perform its first missions. However, it’s not quite finished yet: the MedEvac conversion kit is missing.
Troop carrier, VIP aircraft, intensive care unit: the Air Force has a wide range of missions ready for its first new A321LR. To do justice to this, partner Lufthansa Technik has fitted the brand new jet with a bespoke modular cabin over the past six months, which allows for up to 18 different equipment variants. The maximum is 163 passengers. The range of 7,778 kilometers allows trouble-free intercontinental flights – both for delegations on parliamentary operations and for soldiers with campaign and operational baggage. For use in a flying hospital, the installation of new MedEvac kits is planned, which should make it possible to transport six patients in intensive care or twelve less seriously injured.
MedEvac is yet to come
According to Lufthansa Technik, it has already taken numerous technical precautions for this – and has already prepared the aircraft for the necessary oxygen supply for the patient modules, for example. What is still missing are the conversion kits themselves, which are not yet homologated, neither civil nor military. This means that an important area of application for the new A321LR is no longer available at the moment – which is not really ideal given that the last A310MRTT has recently been retired and the multinational A330MRTT has no not yet released for the MedEvac role. That is. To compensate, a second Airbus A400M will temporarily intervene in the breach, which is on stand-by 24 hours a day at its Wunstorf base. If all goes well, the A321LR will take over in mid-2023.
“Signal to the Troop”
Nevertheless, Ingo Gerhartz, Inspector General of the Air Force, today welcomed the symbolic handover of the new aircraft to the ILA in Berlin. “For me, the most important thing is that the Airbus A321 Long Range in gray paint sends a clear signal to the troops. The soldiers of the Bundeswehr are satisfied with the new troop carrier,” said the army chief of the air. The cabin is an “upgrade to military business class,” Gerhartz explained. Benedikt Zimmer, Secretary of State at the Ministry of Defense, pointed out that only two years had passed between the approval of the financing and the delivery of the A321LR. “An example of how quickly the supply of products available on the market can be executed.”
Soon the first missions
However, the Air Force could not take the newcomer with the 15+10 Tactical ID directly with them. Instead, the A321LR will initially return to Hamburg, because the aircraft, which was previously registered as a civilian aircraft, still needs the last “Go!” in the form of an official military endorsement. Normally, however, it is only a matter of days to weeks, according to Lufthansa Technik spokesman Michael Lagemann. The first air force flight, cabin and technical crews have already been trained by Lufthansa Technik and Lufthansa Technical Training. This means flight preparation can begin immediately as soon as the authorities give the go-ahead. “Our new Airbus will soon be flying west across the Atlantic, for example to pick up changing navy crews in Latin America, it will transport our army comrades to Lithuania or our soldiers to Africa,” Ingo explained. Gerhartz, full of expectation.
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