Airbus Defense and Space is testing the loading system for transporting large military materials that it has developed using an Airbus Beluga A300-600ST aircraft. The new capacity has been successfully tested, according to the company, by loading a CH53 helicopter of the Bundeswehr, the German armed forces, within the device used to transport special volume cargo.
The chief executive of Airbus Defense and Space (Airbus DS), Michael Schoellhorn, pointed out that currently “the demand for large air cargo capacity is increasing”. The supply of this capacity, however, he clarified, “is scarce and in light of the current geopolitical developments, many customers are looking for new, fast and efficient solutions. This is exactly what we offer with our Beluga ST fleet.”
Increased demand for air cargo
Precisely, arising directly from the current context of the war in Ukraine, after the invasion of the country by Russia, which began on February 24, the largest air logistics resource in the world, the Ukrainian AN-225 aircraft, was destroyed by then. It was the largest plane on the planet, which was also used to transport cargo.
Schoellhorn detailed how Airbus teams are “working on a landmark solution to facilitate fast, efficient and autonomous handling of heavy military cargo on the aircraft.” The CEO of Airbus DS stressed that “speed, agility, and autonomy are key elements for our customers when it comes to this type of operation”.
The manufacturer explains in a statement that the new loading system, developed by Airbus Defense and Space engineers, has already been presented to representatives of customers of the international armed forces after the aforementioned verification event, which took place in Manching, north of Munich.
A year and a half of development
The system was developed and produced over a year and a half, starting from scratch, “from the initial exchange of ideas with the German customer to its verification, which is still subject to final confirmation by the Bundeswehr in the coming weeks.”
The new development, the source noted, “allows the CH53 refueling organization in a reduced disassembly state to be completed in less than an hour and a half, while the actual process of refueling a Beluga aircraft can be completed in about an hour.” The total load capacity of the system, which does not require a crane for its use, reaches 35 tons and can be moved to the destination of the aircraft.
Before announcing plans to offer the services to the existing Beluga ST fleet earlier this year, the fleet of five aircraft was used solely to transport large airframe sections between various Airbus sites as part of the company’s production system. “With the arrival of the new Beluga XL, based on the larger A330-200 platform, the existing Beluga ST fleet is ready to transport customers around the world.”
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