25 Jul 2009

Backing confirmed for military Airbus

1:01 pm on 25 July 2009

Despite delays, defence ministers from seven European nations have pledged to continue to support a Airbus A400M military transport aircraft project.

Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Turkey and Britain hope to agree on a new contract for the plane by the end of the year.

More than 4000 production jobs are at stake.

The BBC reports the maiden flight of the A400M is a year late due to technical and budget trouble.

A second deadline of March this year was also missed. The plane is not now due to take to the skies until the end of this year. The earliest it can be delivered is 2013.

The A400M project was launched in 2003, with orders for 180 planes so far.

The plane is intended as a replacement for the main NATO military transport aircraft, the Lockheed Martin Hercules. It is designed to carry up to 32 tonnes of troops and equipment over distances of up to 8000km.