Air Transport Wing 62 awaits A400M
The Transall C-160 is still in duty at the Air Transport Wing 62 in Wunstorf. But with the arrival of the Airbus A400M - planned in 2014 - a new era will begin for the whole area around the little town of Wunstorf in Lower Saxony, Germany.
A glimpse of the future was already caught on the 6th of September this year, when the first Airbus A400M landed on the scene – as part of a wide Airbus testing range of the new aircraft.
For this amount of money one can buy a brand new Airbus A380 or more than 22.000 new Megane automobiles. But you can also invest this amount of money in the new infrastructure of the Wunstorf airfield. Nevertheless, this investment is a well-chosen, because it will host one of the most complex flying units of the German Air Force. Starting in 2014 it is expected to be the only successor of the German Transall C-160.
The new aircraft shall make all the efforts pay off, because the engagement in everything around the A400M will last not for years - but for decades. Therefore the soldiers of the ATW 62 are looking forward to the future.
" A tremendous achievement to our wing"
The airfield is currently the largest construction site of the German Air Force. But what others would consider as a burden, actually motivates most of the “Wunstorfers”: “We see the future every day – right in front of our eyes ,” says the Commander, Colonel Guido Henrich, expecting to see the first A400M in two years on the taxiway. Until the year 2017 about 30 of these modern transport aircrafts are expected to be available for service. "We turn our base completely upside down, while running all current operations," adds his Deputy, Lieutenant Colonel (LTC) Christian John. Among the necessary modifications is also the extension of the old runway up to the length of 2.500m.
Right now - as the work has reached the barrier region with excavators and trucks as well as Transalls being pushed together on confined space - the first signs of the massive changes become visible: "The construction of the runway is the first change of 32 others to follow, actions which also include the construction of a new training center for the A400M. Until 2020 the whole environment will be finished, including the accommodation building. We have one goal and one perspective, this is just great," the Deputy Commander describes.
In additon to an extended runway a new dispersal building, a new fire station and new hangars have been buildt. Coming back to the almost mentioned new A400M training centre, which will house two satellite-based simulators, it is foreseen to fly pre-deployment training missions togehter with other nations before deploying abroad. The training center will also have a cargo hold trainer - enhanced (CHT-E), a facility to train loadmasters and loading crews.
“Because we can”
The Air Transport Wing 62 hosts actually approximately 1.200 soldiers, being part of the 1st Air Force Division based in Fürstenfeldbruck, though working under OPCON of the European Air Transport Command (EATC) in Eindhoven. The chronicles of the wing began on 1st October 1959 with the twin-engined Noratlas N 2501, manufactured with France in the lead at the near German town of Celle.
In April 1968 the first C-160 Transall flew in, being still in service today.
The spirit of optimism seems to cover all areas of the ATW 62 today. “When in a few years - having had two years of parallel operations - the last Transalls are about to fly out, there will certainly flow tears”, predicts LTC John. Until then, the nearly two dozen C-160 and their crews are doing what they do best:
Providing their world-wide service, being modest and reliable: “First in, last out. We are always the first on the scene and the last to go out again”, explains technician and 1st Lieutenant Olaf Keck.
“And that applies not only for the Transalls – but surely also to the new aircraft”...
Text: Colla Schmitz, Norbert Thomas
Pictures: ATW 62, Press - and Information Office