The European Commission has launched a call for tenders to study the feasibility of “the possible development of a future tactical transport aircraft”. 

European transport aircraft were recently involved in several critical operations. These included the COVID-19 relief effort and the evacuation out of Afghanistan. “Beyond their pure military role, tactical transport aircraft are also key assets for a better civil defence/protection and EU-internal needs, with critical contribution to disaster relief, search-and-rescue and sanitary crises response,” the European Defence Fund document explains.  

The Future Mid-size Tactical Cargo (FMTC) program aims to replace the aging tactical aircraft currently in operation among European air forces, including the C-130 Hercules, the CASA C295, or the recently retired Transall C-160. It involves France, which will operate as the coordinator country, Germany and Sweden. 

The proposed aircraft will fulfil the need for a smaller alternative to the Airbus A400M Atlas in order to operate on narrow and short unprepared strips. 

“Besides the A400M, which is on the high-performance side of the capacity, the initial conception of the majority of currently operating tactical aircraft [...] is now 40 years old, and there is a need for a new medium tactical European aircraft, lighter than the A400M that could provide a complementary capacity for tactical transport,” the document reads.  

The feasibility study will have to identify the needs for transport aircraft in Europe by 2050, and potential development opportunities among member states of the European Defence Fund and their partners. The tender will end on November 24, 2022. 

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