Airbus’ A400M Aerial Transport: Delays, Development, and Deployment
May 10/17: A report by the German Defense Ministry has raised concerns over the military readiness of the A400M due to contractual wrangling with manufacturer Airbus, as well as ongoing technical issues with the aircraft. First ordered in 2003, the A400M aimed to give European nations an independent transport capability but costs have since spiraled and Airbus has warned of “risks ahead” for the continent’s largest defense project. The report warns that Airbus may request delays ranging between 12 and 18 months in order to fix the issues, which could lead to a German capability gap when Berlin retires its fleet of C-160 Transall aircraft in 2021. In response to this gap, Germany and France have decided on a plan to jointly procure and operate a number of C-130J aircraft from Lockheed Martin in order to augment their A400M fleets.
Airbus’ A400M is a EUR 20+ billion program that aims to repeat Airbus’ civilian successes in the full size military transport market. A series of smart design decisions were made around capacity (35-37 tonnes/ 38-40 US tons, large enough for survivable armored vehicles), extensive use of modern materials, multi-role capability as a refueling tanker, and a multinational industrial program; all of which leave the aircraft well positioned to take overall market share from Lockheed Martin’s C-130 Hercules. If the USA’s C-17 is allowed to go out of production, the A400M would also have a strong position in the strategic transport market, with only Russian AN-70, IL-76 and AN-124 aircraft as competition.
Airbus’ biggest program issue, by far, has been funding for a project that is more than EUR 7 billion over budget. The next biggest issue is timing, as a combination of A400M delays and Lockheed’s strong push for its C-130J Super Hercules narrow the field for future exports. This DID Spotlight article covers the latest developments, as the A400M Atlas moves into the delivery phase. Will Airbus’ 3rd big issue become its own customers?
The A400M Program
A400M: Tech Specs and Issues
A400M: Industrial Team
Contracts & Key Events
2014 – 2017
2008 and earlier
Appendix A – The A400M Program: Dilemmas & a Deal
Background: A400M Program
News and Views
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