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Paratroopers Dropped Over France to Mark D-Day 80

To mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day, three Atlas C1 (A400M) aircraft have dropped paratroopers over Sannerville, mirroring the actions of RAF Dakota aircraft 80 years ago.

This event marked the first public display of the A400M's paratrooper deployment capabilities, and saw paratroopers jump from aircraft’s the two side doors simultaneously.

The A400M, based at RAF Brize Norton, led a formation followed by United States Air Force C-130 Hercules and a Belgian Air Force A400M Atlas, which both dropped paratroopers from their respective Armed Forces.

On the night of June 5, 1944, hundreds of Dakotas took off from airfields across England. These aircraft carried thousands of paratroopers, tasked with securing key sites behind enemy lines. Their mission was critical to the success of the overall invasion, as they aimed to disrupt German defences, capture strategic bridges, and establish defensive positions.

The paratroopers faced intense anti-aircraft fire, navigational challenges, and perilous landings in the dark, often being scattered over wide areas. Despite these difficulties, their efforts significantly contributed to the eventual success of the Normandy landings.

“Today is a very special day. It’s poignant to remember the sacrifices our forebears made on what was an audacious multi-domain mission that unlocked a four-year grip on Western Europe. It also gives us a chance to show the A400, which is a phenomenal capability. Today we saw simultaneous stick parachuting out of the aircraft which allows us to deliver a lot of airborne troops in a very small drop zone.” said Air Vice-Marshal Mark Flewin, Air Officer Commanding No.1 Group

Since entering RAF service in 2014, the A400M has played a pivotal role in several operations. It was a central part of UK Hurricane relief efforts in the Caribbean and as part of the military response to the COVID pandemic, it transported patients, equipment & vaccines.​​Atlas also played an important role in the evacuation of entitled personnel from Afghanistan and Sudan, and most recently has air-dropped aid to Gaza.

The A400M is capable of carrying a variety of loads, from 116 fully equipped troops to vehicles, helicopters or up to nine pallets of cargo. Loads can be delivered by parachute, gravity extraction from the rear ramp, or on the ground where the aircraft can land on austere landing strips. Paratroopers can also jump from the two side doors simultaneously.



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