The C-130 is simply too small in diameter. It is only being used and now procured by France and Germany, because there is simply no other aeroplane of that size on the market right now for NATO. The C-160 Transall was built correcting shortcomings of the C-130 in mind. First and foremost not being built around the railway loading gauge. Which limits what type of vehicles you can load into it. Whereas a Transall can load pretty much anything within its weight limits. Of course trhere are still too big sized loads, but if it fits a rail car it fits a TRansall.
Your point of the A400M not going to be risked on the frontline is a problem that many modern aeroplanes share with it.
IMO there never was a real need for any Luftwaffe air lift capability.
It sure was very close to useless during the Cold War.
Wrong. The Bundeswehr had a use for the Transall. And that is as a tactical transoporter to e.g. bring Fallschirmjäger behind soviet lines or to reinforce hotspots quickly.
The A400M is a typical one-size-fits-nothing solution. "a tactical transporter with strategic reach". Of course procured in too low numbers to be of any real use.
All of the out-of-area missions were unnecessary.
I suppose the root causes for the existence of a Luftwaffe air transport fleet (specifically the Noratlas procurement) were the cauldron resupply mission from 1942-1945 and the similar issue of the Berlin blockade. It was never reasonable to expect transport aircraft to be of use over a European battlefield 1960's and later. Our constitution really only considers (collective) defence as the legal mission of the armed forces. Everything abroad beyond that is bending the written constitution IMO.
The soviets certainly thought air assault a viable move in case of cold war gone hot. Why should this be wrong in the other direction?
And yes, supplying Berlin may have been a consideration in case of another blockade, but because of the legal situation only the three western allies would have been allowed to fly imho. So I do not think it was that important.
Well, not entirely. In 1982 we were going to crash land 2 C130's on airfields in Argentina, disgorging planeloads of SAS troopers to destroy Argentinian aircraft on the ground. They never did it, not through fear of lost of the aircraft, which with the American production line could be easily replaced. It was suddenly worked out it would be something of a waste of a lot of Britain's special forces that could not be easily replaced. Probably for decades.
Granted its an unlikely scenario, but it illustrates, when you have a large production line you can be wasteful in airframes. With just 56 built, and im guessing there wont be any more, nobody is going to take risks with these. So the idea they are somehow going to replace the Hercules I think is erroneous. I wouldn't be surprised to see another version of Hercules long after the A400 has left production.
If they had put jet engines on A400, It may have had a good market with freight haulage airlines. Something the C17 with its expense and complexity never got close to touching.