A Marine Corps centric blog, with a view on all things military...
Why are we lifting their stuff to Mali with C-17's if they have these?
Because the A400M has significant payload and range limitations.
Because they only currently have one of 'em, and it is this first example. Brand new design.
In addition to range and capacity issues, this is the first French A400M and has not been delivered IIRC.
Because the first A400M isn't going to be handed over to France until Q2 2013. It has all the capabilities to handle Mali or any other lift situation.
They're not using it in Mali because they don't have one yet. Payload capacity for the A4500m is 37,000 kg (81,600 lb) and range is 3,298 km (2,049 mi; 1,781 nmi), which is about 20% less than the c-17, but still sufficient for a mission such as Mali.
The problem with that analysis is that it leaves out the C-17 carries more than twice the load of the A400M but the A400M costs about the same as the C-17. The A400M is an interesting aircraft. It's a very large tactical air lifter that originally was designed to replace the C-160, an aircraft smaller than a C-130, but is in fact almost the size of the C-141 but lacking much of that aircraft's range. It's not in fact a strategic air lifter. It's probably a very good compromise design for flying from Europe to Africa; however, nations will often require actual strategic aircraft as well as smaller tactical transports.Thus if a nation operates a C-17 and C-130 force the A400M could certainly replace the C-130 but one would then require some numbers of smaller transports in the C-235/295 class as well. The main problem with the A400M is that it costs so much. It's almost as expensive as a C-17 and costs significantly more than two C-130J's. In my view A400M was never going to make sense unless the cost was around $100 million or about half a C-17 and ballpark 50% more than a C-130J. At the current projected $180 million it simply costs too much, leaving aside if that class of aircraft really makes sense.