A321LR for the Italian Air Force: a touch of “Military Business Class”

Today at the ILA in Berlin, Lufthansa Technik ceremonially delivered the first of two Airbus A321LRs to the Air Force. The new aircraft will soon carry out its first missions. However, it’s not quite finished yet – the MedEvac kit is missing.

Troop carrier, VIP plane, intensive care unit – the Air Force has a wide range of tasks ready for its first new A321LR. To do this justice, partner Lufthansa Technik has equipped the brand new jet with a bespoke modular cabin over the past six months, allowing for up to 18 different equipment variants. The maximum is 163 passengers. The range of 7,778 kilometers allows for trouble-free intercontinental flights, both for delegations in parliamentary operations and for soldiers with field and operational baggage. For use as a flying hospital, new MedEvac kits are planned to be installed, which should allow the transport of six ICU patients or twelve less seriously injured.

Patrick Zwerger

The Air Force’s first A321LR carries the 15 + 10 tactical designation and flies up to 7,778 kilometers.

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 supply of oxygen to the patient modules, for example. The same conversion kits are still missing, not yet homologated, neither civilian nor military. This means that an important scope for the new A321LR is no longer available for the time being – which is not quite ideal given that the latest A310MRTT has recently retired and the multinational A330MRTT have not yet been released for the MedEvac role o. To compensate, a second Airbus A400M will temporarily enter the breach, which is on standby 24 hours a day at its base in Wunstorf. Hopefully, the A321LR will take over in mid-2023.

Lufthansa Technik

The cabin of the A321Lr is modular to accommodate a wide range of activities.

“Signal to the troop”

However, Ingo Gerhartz, inspector general of the Air Force, welcomed the symbolic handover of the new machine to the ILA in Berlin today at noon. “For me, the most important thing is that the Airbus A321 Long Range in gray paint sends a clear signal to the troops. The Bundeswehr soldiers are happy with the new troop transporter,” said the Air Force chief. The cabin is an “upgrade to the military business class,” Gerhartz explained. Benedikt Zimmer, Undersecretary of State at the Ministry of Defense, stressed that only two years have passed between the approval of the financing and the delivery of the A321LR. “An example of how quickly the procurement of products available on the market can be performed”.

Berlin exhibition center

For now, flight readiness officials could only take home one model of their new aircraft. The original returned to Hamburg.

Soon the first assignments

However, the Air Force could not take the newcomer directly with them with tactical identification 15 + 10. Instead, the A321LR initially flies to Hamburg, because the plane, which has so far been registered as a civilian aircraft, still needs the “Go!” final in the form of official military approval. Normally, however, this is only a matter of days or a few weeks, according to Lufthansa Technik spokesman Michael Lagemann. The first flight, cabin and technical crews of the Air Force have already been trained by Lufthansa Technik and Lufthansa Technical Training. This means that readiness to fly can begin immediately as soon as the authorities give the green light. “Our new Airbus will soon fly west across the Atlantic, for example to pick up changing crews from the Navy in Latin America, fly our army comrades to Lithuania or our soldiers to Africa,” explained Ingo Gerhartz. full of expectations.

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