PHOTO: Airbus Proves Its Huge New Warplane Doesn't Need A Paved Runway

Airbus delivered the first A400M Atlas to the French Air Force in August, but it’s still busy running trials to prove just how much the huge new warplane can do.

The Military branch of the European plane manufacturer recently spent a week in Ablitas, in northern Spain, testing the A400M’s ability to land on gravel runways. That’s key for a plane that will be used in emergency and military situations.

Part of the reason the plane has propellers, rather than jet engines, is that props stand up better to debris kicked up on takeoffs and landings. Airbus says “damage to the aircraft exterior from stones and dust was minimal and within expectations,” and the runway was still usable “after repeated operations.”

In a release, head of testing Eric Isorce said “We are extremely please with the results of these tests.”

Here’s a photo of the A400M touching down on rough ground:

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