Spain doesn’t know what to do with the ordered 13 A400M aircraft

MADIRD ($1=1.00 Euro) — The Ministry of Defense of Spain has not yet decided what to do with the 13 A400M transport aircraft it will initially receive from 2025 and which it does not plan to use.

Two Turkish A400M stuck in Ukraine delivering Bayraktar UAVs
Photo credit: FluRevue

Spain initially placed an order for 27 A400Ms, but in May 2013 the Ministry of Defense announced that it would operate only 14 aircraft. Currently, the 31st Air Force Wing, which is responsible for its operation, already has 13 of the 14 aircraft, having received two A400Ms in recent months.

Specifically, the twelfth aircraft arrived on 10 May and the thirteenth on 13 July. The last one, with in-flight refueling capacity, will be delivered to the unit located at Zaragoza Air Base in May 2023, according to the schedule provided by the ministry.

“With the delivery of the 3 aircraft mentioned in the previous section, the 14 aircraft to be operated by the Spanish Armed Forces are complete. As of today, no decision has been taken on the remaining 13 A400M aircraft,” official sources told

What will happen to the remaining 13 planes?

When the Ministry of Defense decided to keep only 14 aircraft, the ministry said the idea was to try to sell the remaining 13 aircraft to other countries interested in the aircraft. It should be remembered that this lot will be delivered by Airbus between 2025 and 2030, according to the amendment of the purchase contract signed in 2016 between the ministry and the aircraft manufacturer.

A sale remains one of the most viable options, especially since the aircraft has already reached operational maturity – more than a hundred A400Ms are flying – and has also demonstrated its capabilities in real missions. Airbus, after years of commercial campaigns, won contracts in Indonesia and Kazakhstan.

Part of this sales success is due to the excellent performance of the A400M fleet, which is already in service in high-profile missions such as the evacuation from Afghanistan in August and September 2021. In the case of Spain, the aircraft also played a key role in the arrival of medical supplies during the worst moments of the pandemic, and recently it has also been used to send weapons to Ukraine.

Two Turkish A400M stuck in Ukraine delivering Bayraktar UAVs
Photo credit: FlugRevue

One of the aircraft’s strengths is its versatility. The A400M is equipped to perform a wide range of missions: cargo transport, troop transport, parachute descent, medical evacuation, aerial refueling, or electronic surveillance. Airbus recently tested a kit that turns an airplane into a fire extinguisher. On the other hand, among the disadvantages, the high cost of acquisition, operation, and maintenance stand out, which means that many countries do not even try to buy it.

Spain may also choose to keep one of the 13 units precisely because of the aforementioned good performance and flexibility. The UK, one of seven countries in the A400M program – there are also France, Germany, Turkey, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Spain itself – plans to acquire more aircraft.


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